California Revokes Discriminatory Rule Against Sex Workers

State allows sex workers to receive compensation for injuries due to rape.

Sex worker Kristen D'Angelo, facing, hugs sex worker activist Carol Leigh at a meeting with others who claim the California Victim Compensation and Governmental Claims Board discriminates against sex workers by denying them benefits after having been raped in San Francisco, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013.
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Advocates estimate the number of people who have been refused claim is in the hundreds.

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"This regulation has been on the books since 1999. If you consider on average it's been 28 a year, it's not an insignificant number that would be affected," says Kim Horiuchi, the attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who represented the sex workers.

"We're hopeful that we can continue the discussion both with the board and with the legislature in which we allow fair access to compensation for all victims, including victims who may be on probation or who may have been convicted of a felony," says Horiuchi.

Maxine Doogan, an organizer for the Erotic Service Providers Union, hopes this decision will bring about other broad changes.

"We would like the state of California to adopt the Obama administration policy on prostitution, which is that prostitution should not be discriminated against in seeking public services," says Doogan.

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  • Corrected 12/13/13: A previous version of this article misstated the name of the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.