• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 1s

Sex worker advocate in Juneau lobbying for change to Alaska law

By Emily Carlson 1:36 AM February 4, 2015
ANCHORAGE –

Lawmakers see all kinds of lobbyists during the legislative session in Juneau. But one sex worker advocate who showed up this week is causing quite a stir in the halls of the Capitol.

Terra Burns is in Juneau to fight for the rights of prostitutes. Before she made the trip she was in Fairbanks, where she’s spent the past year studying the trade of sex for money. She is also a grad student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her thesis revolves around the lives of 40 prostitutes in Alaska.

“I absolutely think people have the wrong image of sex workers,” Burns said. “There are so many people who engage in sex work and a lot of them are older woman, single mothers, and they are very educated.”

Under Alaska law, prostitutes can be charged with sex trafficking. Burns says that stops sex workers from calling police when they’ve been abused.

“People have had a lot of bad experiences with them and generally don’t want to report to them,” said Burns, who has experience in the industry. “That’s who you’re supposed to call on for protection is the people who hunt you down and arrest you.”

Armed with her report and donations from an online crowdfunding campaign, she’s headed to Juneau to school lawmakers on what it’s really like to work the streets. She says Alaska’s laws are targeting the wrong bad guys.

“They really target things that people in the sex industry do to increase their own safety,” Burns said. “Things like working indoors or working together or even buying condoms for each other.”

She adds that Alaska’s well-intended legislation has unintended consequences.

“I think it shows they are more likely to victimize workers themselves than they are to protect the workers,” she said. 

Burns hopes lawmakers will not judge and that they will listen to her. She is perhaps the first advocate for sex workers to lobby lawmakers in the state Legislature’s 102-year history.

Burns is currently living in her camper in Juneau, where she plans to stay all session. Rght now, there has only been one sex-trafficking bill introduced, Senate Bill 21, which would allow Alaskans charged with prostitution crimes the defense of being the victim of sex trafficking. But the sponsor of that bill, Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner, says the bill would not protect voluntary sex workers.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Coast Guard: Kodiak missile test could occur as early as next week

    by Associated Press on Jul 22, 14:15

    KODIAK, Alaska (AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard says a launch from the Kodiak Island rocket launch complex in Alaska will occur as soon as next week. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports a U.S. Coast Guard notice released Wednesday states the launch is scheduled to occur at the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska between 7 p.m. on […]

  • Son charged in death of father whose body was left on couch for weeks

    by CBS/AP on Jul 22, 14:12

    FRACKVILLE, Pa. — A man has been charged with killing his father, who authorities say was shot to death and his body then left on a couch in his home for weeks. Tyler Swantek, 24, faces charges in Schuylkill County including criminal homicide, first- and third-degree murder, aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse in the […]

  • News

    Search suspended for man overboard from skiff in Prince William Sound

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 13:21

    The U.S. Coast Guard spent much of Friday looking for a man who fell overboard from a skiff on the west side of Prince William Sound, but was unable to locate any sign of him. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said that the man went overboard at about 2 a.m. Friday from a commercial […]

  • News

    Alaska’s acting US attorney nominated to formally fill post

    by Associated Press on Jul 22, 11:57

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A veteran federal prosecutor was nominated Friday by President Donald Trump to be the next U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska. Trump nominated Bryan Schroder for the post. Schroder has been the acting head of the Alaska district since Karen Loeffler and 45 other U.S. attorneys appointed by former President […]

  • Trump says military ‘bigger, better, stronger’ at USS Gerald R. Ford commissioning

    by CBS News on Jul 22, 10:32

    President Trump officially commissioned the U.S. Navy’s newest and largest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday, applauding the military’s strength. “When it comes to battle, we don’t want a fair fight. We demand victory and we will have total victory, believe me,” Mr. Trump said of the powerful aircraft […]

  • Minneapolis police chief resigns in wake of Justine Damond shooting

    by CBS News on Jul 22, 10:29

    Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau resigned Friday amid criticism of her response to a string of high-profile police shootings. Harteau’s resignation came at the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges, who has publicly clashed with the police chief. Hodges said in a statement Friday that she had lost confidence in Harteau. “As far as we have […]

  • Elim man accused of propositioning local girl, 14, for sex online

    by KTVA Web Staff on Jul 22, 9:52

    Alaska State Troopers say an Elim man is behind bars, after he allegedly propositioned a local girl online in the Northwest Alaska village for “sexual favors.” Herbert Barr Sr., 50, was charged with online enticement of a minor and distribution of child pornography, according to an online dispatch, after Nome troopers were told Monday that […]

  • Driver charged with murdering 2 women in 2016 Petersburg van crash

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 8:19

    The driver in a van crash that killed two young Petersburg women last summer, bringing the Southeast Alaska town’s Fourth of July celebrations to a jarring halt, has been charged with murder in the wreck. William “Chris” Allen, 24, was taken into custody in Fairbanks on a $50,000 arrest warrant shortly before 5 p.m. Friday, […]