San Francisco Girls Are Helping Oakland Prostitutes

Categories: Crime
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Owls on the move.
Last year we wrote about the San Francisco nonprofit Center for Young Women's Development burning -- yes, actually burning -- an unexpected $100,000 check sent to them by Craigslist. The center's executive director, Marlene Sanchez, told us that the center's clients thought the website, which capitalized on the sexual exploitation of girls, was trying to buy them off.

Some readers thought the move was foolish -- what funding is completely pure? But then again, the check burning at least showed the women have conviction.

Volunteers from the center are still making bold moves when it comes to prostitution. For the last three weeks, the girls have been at the Oakland prostitution track talking to sex workers and handing out condoms, lubricant, and feminine wipes.
The call themselves the "Owls" and dress in black T-shirts. They also give out chips, juice, and pamphlets informing the prostitutes about the nonprofit.

The program was the brainchild of program director Venus Rodriguez, who tells SF Weekly "I just knew we needed to do something." She recruited donations for some startup cash, and eight volunteers -- young adults aged 16 to 20, some of whom are former prostitutes themselves.

In its first stop, the group went to Capp Street, a longtime foothold of prostitution in the Mission District. But the volunteers go out in the afternoon, and the prostitutes weren't working yet. So the Owls took their business to Oakland on International Boulevard and San Pablo Avenue, where young prostitutes and their pimps walk the corners at all hours.

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"Some of the prostitutes choose to take the packet, some don't," says Rodriguez. The message: "If you're outside, we want you to be safe, and if you want to come inside, here's a place."

Rodriguez says local businesses are grateful for the efforts. "A lot of community members and store owners are coming out, because most of the time when they see young women, they're doing sex work, instead of the same type of young women doing outreach."

Yet the response from the pimps has been decidedly less encouraging. Some have been okay with the Owls approaching their prostitutes, while others have been less welcoming. "We gave chips to one girl and the pimp snatched it and started eating it," Rodriguez says. They've learned a lot about the Oakland sex trade, including spotting vans where the pimps lurk nearby, and the lookouts posted on roofs of nearby buildings to watch for cops.

But nobody has called the center for help yet. However, one prostitute did call last week for another reason: Rodriguez says she wanted to apply for one of the center's paid job skills internships.

That's a start.

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8 comments
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janee
janee

aye its lit we gotta stay on our job

OWWLS
OWWLS

We have many allies who agree and disagree with our decision to burn the check but as an organization run by young women of color we have every right to decide who we want to take money from and under what terms. Yes we were in needed the money and no we did not want to have “survival sex” with the Craigslist Foundation just because we need money. We will always need money, friends and allies. I rather take money from individual people who believe in the self determination of women and want to support them! We have been supporting young women on the streets for over 17 years and Craigslist never gave us a grant until they were being attacked publicly. We do not have anything against the Craigslist Foundation and we have the right to decide who we want to take money from and work with. We are  walking our talk!

LiL'Bitz
LiL'Bitz

I heard that, stand on something or fall for anything! Stick to your guns, improve lives, than destroy. Women are queens and they need to know this. Many woman have had some terrible things happen to them from men that know a woman will take care of business better than them and never grow up. Of course women have the brains to succeed in everything. Be men and stand on your own tired brok down two feets. Pimp's mommas did not teach them a thing about how to treat a woman. Will yo mommas get out there and sell her ass for you as your hoes!? Or how about somebody pimping on your mother, the woman that gave you life. How would that make you feel PIMPS? If you are fine with it, go get momma, your sister and make it a family affair, family ties!!!Stop destroying young ladies for the benefit of making your pockets full, bragging to the boys----I got a fine young bitch, man. If that bitch left you today, took all the money and your pimp game with her....your asses will be fucked. No real knowledge on how to survive in the streets.

One day all the ladies of lesuire will leave you thoughtless ass-holes, hopefully they will in turn PIMP your A S S!

Respectfully, LiL'Bitz

DNSF
DNSF

Haha they thought Craigslist would try to buy "them" off? Wow. 

DNSF
DNSF

Idiots, burning a $100K check donation from Craigslist. Shows how little they actually know where the root of the very problem they fight against lies. It is not within the media used to promote prostitution like cell phones, newspapers, online posting boards. It's the people behind the posts. Guns don't kill people without the trigger being pulled.

janee
janee

it doesnt matter if we blew the check were our there making sure our fellow sisters are living and okay

Isaac Anthony
Isaac Anthony

As much as I agree with burning that check being a bad decision, at least they are out trying to do something positive.  Rather than being an anonymous internet troll.

Guest
Guest

Good for them. Someone needs to get them skanks cleaned up.

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