Politics & Government

The Buzz: California board repeals rule barring prostitutes from restitution

Payments to victims now can include prostitutes

California’s three-member Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board voted unanimously Thursday to overturn a regulation barring victims of sexual assault from receiving restitution if they work in the sex trade.

The 14-year-old policy says victims of a violent crime may be denied compensation if they were involved in the events leading up to that crime, including mutual combat, illegal drug-related activity and prostitution.

Advocates for sex workers argued the regulation was discriminatory, essentially blaming prostitutes for their own rape and putting other women at greater risk of attack.

“I find Rule 649.56 repugnant,” said board Chairwoman Marybel Batjer, “and I don’t understand why it was passed in 1999.”

The decision followed testimony from sex workers and their advocates, including Kristen DiAngelo, a former prostitute who told board members about a rape she experienced in Sacramento in 1983.

“What happens when you segregate a population that you deem unworthy,” DiAngelo told the board, “is you give predators a training ground” to attack other women.

– Alexei Koseff

BY THE NUMBERS

California has local pockets of wealth, but none of its counties can compete with communities near Washington, D.C., a new Census Bureau report indicates. The bureau calculated that five counties or “county equivalents” in Northern Virginia had the nation’s highest median household incomes in 2012, topped by $121,250 in Falls Church, Va. California, at $58,322, was 10th overall. Santa Clara County was California’s most affluent county in 2012, with a median income of $91,195, while Trinity County, at $35,162, was the poorest.

– Dan Walters

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