Currently, there is a regulation, Rule 649.56, in the California Victims Compensation program that denies benefits to rape survivors who are sex workers.  Rule 649.56 has come under fire in recent months by advocates, ACLU, district attorneys, Victim-Witness, women’s groups, and sex workers, who have been strongly advocating for the elimination of this rule.
On December 12th, the California Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB) will be meeting in Sacramento where they will be addressing Rule 649.56 – Involvement in the Qualifying Crime of Prostitution.  In May 16, 2013 Board meeting, the VCGCB amended this rule to exclude survivors of human trafficking.
However, CALCASA is opposed to this rule since it also excludes sex industry workers who have been sexually assaulted from receiving any Victims Compensation benefits, such as vital medical treatment, counseling, etc. resulting from the rape.    This rule has been used to deny Victims Compensation benefits to rape survivors who are sex workers, where the “crime occurred as a  direct result of the activity related to prostitution.”
Rule 649.56 further institutionalizes the prejudice that sex workers cannot be raped, that rape is not as serious for sex workers as it is for other survivors, or that sex workers are undeserving of these benefits and support.  It blames these survivors for the violence perpetrated against them.
The VCGCB will be reviewing Rule 649.56 at tomorrow’s meeting to consider eliminating or amending the current regulation.  Along with many other supporters, CALCASA has advocated for the elimination of Rule 649.56 to ensure every survivor of sexual violence in California can access Victims Compensation.