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Squo solves- PFZs have been repealed and havent been


the District of Columbia Council voted on a bill to

repeal the Districts Prostitution Free Zones law as well as the Drug Free
On October 7, 2014,

Zones law that it was based on. After an initial unanimous vote, the Council revisited the topic at the
request of Councilmember Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) who claimed that the Prostitution Free Zones
(PFZs) were an important tool to address concerns about sex work in neighborhoods she represents,
despite testimony from police that the PFZs have not been used for over two years. The Prostitution Free
Zones have had a major impact on prostitution, said Councilmember Alexander. The Metropolitan Police
Department had stated at previous hearings that police were no longer using the law due to the concerns
about its constitutionality as well as lack of evidence that the PFZs were effective in reducing street-based
sex work in areas where the zones were declared. While acknowledging the constitutional concerns
regarding the PFZs, Councilmember Alexander asked her colleagues to vote against repeal on the grounds
that she felt there are reasons to implement the zones. The D.C. Council passed the law authorizing police
to declare PFZs in 2006 over objections from community members who said the zones would legitimize

Community-based research by the

Alliance for a Safe and Diverse D.C. revealed the negative effects of
D.C.s approach to sex work, and a more recent review of policecommunity relations by the MPD-appointed Hate Crimes Response
Task Force found high levels of distrust of police among transgender
communities in the city, due to patterns of discrimination and abuse.
long-standing discriminatory police practices.

Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced the bill to repeal the PFZs in response to the Task
Force report and accompanying recommendations by community groups. Chairman of the Committee on
Judiciary and Public Safety Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) pointed out that the zones are not being used by the
police, and that to say to constituents that the zones would help address prostitution would be a false
statement. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) asked why Councilmember Wells wanted to repeal the
law, Why do you want to repeal this? We have a lot of laws that we dont use, why do you want to remove
this one? Councilmember Wells pointed out how the PFZs discriminate against trans communities or
people based on what they are wearing and being with two people or more. Despite evidence to the
contrary, the Chairman of the Council, Phil Mendelson (D-Chairman), claimed that the PFZs were effective,
but that the law must be repealed because of the constitutional concerns. As much as some of us would
like for them to come back, said Chairman Mendelson, because I think there was value in the police
using it to disrupt prostitution markets, it cannot be used. It is unconstitutional. But Councilmember
Grosso noted that the constitutional concerns are not the only reason for repeal. This is also about human

These zones were used not

necessarily to address prostitution or sex work, but to discriminate
against people walking down the street that we didnt want walking
down the street. After a period of debate which rehashed
stigmatizing arguments regarding sex work, the Council voted 10-2
to repeal the Prostitution Free Zones law. All laws under consideration by the full
rights in the District of Columbia, said Grosso.

Council must be voted on twicea second vote on the bill will be taken on October 28th, but in light of the
vote tally, it is likely to pass.

Although a largely symbolic gesture, since the

police have already acknowledged not using the zones for the past
two years and no plans to use them in the future, the debate over
the bill shows the importance of removing laws targeting sex
workers, and those profiled as such, for increased criminalization. Best
Practices Policy Project, which assisted the Alliance for a Safe and Diverse D.C. in its community-based
research in 2007 and 2008, applauds this step forward for D.C. and encourages the D.C. Council to
consider implementing other recommendations from that report.