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Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Secularism | 4 comments

Sex workers face imposing of religion by police

In Phoenix, police officers are arresting sex workers and taking them to church, holding them without access to lawyers and coercing them to sign up for a diversion program before they’ve been convicted of any crime:

In May 2013, Monica Jones, a student and sex-work activist, was arrested for “manifesting prostitution” by the Phoenix police.

Hers was one of more than 350 arrests carried out by Project ROSE in conjunction with Phoenix police since the program’s inception in 2011.

Project ROSE is a Phoenix city program that arrests sex workers in the name of saving them. In five two-day stings, more than 100 police officers targeted alleged sex workers on the street and online.  They brought them in handcuffs to the Bethany Bible Church. There, the sex workers were forced to meet with prosecutors, detectives, and representatives of Project ROSE, who offered a diversion program to those who qualified. Those who did not may face months or years in jail.

So they’re basically using taxpayers’ money to shove superstition down the throats of women who are old enough to do whatever the see fit with their bodies, under threat of wasting time and taxpayers’ money in jail; trampling their religious freedom in the process.

  • Kendall

    My understanding is that there’s a similar situation in Ireland, with conservative Catholic organisations taking the place of Project Rose. Of course it’s not as bad as it used to be in Ireland, where many “fallen women” were locked up for life in Magdalene asylums for offending religious morality.

    What I find sad is that so many feminist organisations support this “raid and rescue” model, and happily share a platform with religious fundamentalists when crusading against the sex industry. Prostitution seems to be seen as a far greater evil even than anti-choice Catholic groups that have a history of oppressing women, and to me that seems like a warped priority.

    • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Ðavid A. Osorio S

      Why am I not surprised?

      Yes, those ain’t feminist organizations, they’re rather misogynist ones.

  • Project ROSE

    As a participant in all six of the Project ROSE events, let me correct some misconceptions.
    Prostitution is illegal in Arizona. The City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office contracts with Catholic Charities DIGNITY Diversion, through a open-bid RFP process, to provide a non-sectarian diversion alternative to jail. There is no religious component to the program.
    The program and Project ROSE both rely on peer-counseling by mentors who are survivors of the sex trade. The diversion program has been validated and the data published in peer-reviewed studies.

    The DIGNITY Diversion Program is available to women, men, and transgendered individuals who have been charged with prostitution. (Persons who have completed the program and re-offend, however, are ineligible to participate.)

    Project ROSE is an initiative to bring social services and earlier intervention to individuals who would otherwise select diversion after criminal charges have been filed. The primary Project ROSE partners are the Phoenix Police Department, the Arizona State University School of Social Work, the Phoenix City Prosecutor’s Office, and the Catholic Charities DIGNITY Diversion Program. Some of the other agencies providing services are EMPACT (mental health services), Community Bridges (drug detox services), and Streetlight USA (safe housing services).

    Project ROSE operates from the facilities of Bethany Bible Church. When the City was looking for a facility that would open its doors to a program which brings prostituted persons on its campus, Bethany Bible offered their facility with no-strings attached. The facility has private work spaces for each of the social service agencies, a kitchen (from which workers, clients, and police officers are invited to dine without charge), a private area where volunteer healthcare workers can diagnose, treat, and/or refer patients, and a staging area where clothing – including clean underwear and socks – is available. Again, there is no religious component or content to Project ROSE. Other than facility maintenance, the clergy and congregants of Bethany Bible are not participants. (In fact, on the one occasion a participant asked to speak with clergy, we were unable to locate anyone.)

    • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Ðavid A. Osorio S

      So you’re basically endorsing the treatment of prostitution as a crime. That’s the wrong place to start.