5/24/15 Kamylla update: employment & housing discrimination

report by Domina Elle

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has helped with support and donations. It has made a difference.

Awareness around this situation is very important and we want to extend a special thanks to everyone who has invested in this effort.

Kamylla’s case highlights what EVERY woman arrested for prostitution has been facing or will be facing. She is not able to acquire employment and will be discriminated against in terms of housing and employment. Life becomes impossible and an already exhausted spirit just gets beaten down further.

Any amount of stability a person had before the arrest will be taken away and replaced with hardship. A person with no stability prior to arrest is plunged into deeper instability.

There is no ‘rescue’ despite the popular rhetoric. There are virtually no services to help people who do want out of sex work let alone help for people who have been arrested.

When it rains it pours…literally.

It is the rainy season in Houston and Kamylla’s modest apartment (the one she has been struggling to keep her family in) was badly flooded during several storms. Much of what her family had left in the way of property was destroyed or damaged (her husband sold most of their furniture and everything they had of value to bond Kamylla out of jail months back).

The apartment sits damaged and it just so happens that Kamylla’s lease is up and a new lease must be drawn up. During this process the property manager discovered her recent arrest for prostitution while doing the standard background check.

It appears that this is now being used as leverage against her.

Instead of allowing her to simply move her family into a newly remodeled and available unit for the same amount of rent she has been paying, they upped the price for her to move into a new undamaged unit by $500 (it has the exact same layout). She can continue to pay the same amount of rent that she has been paying during the previous lease provided they stay in the damaged unit. Kamylla states they simply want to shampoo the carpet and call it a day.

They have the leverage to keep her in the same damaged unit with everyone knowing full well that they can evict her under the circumstances over her record. We can say that they are actually doing her a favor by not evicting her- because this is what often happens even though she wasn’t doing anything illegal out of this apartment.

Do you think the next property management company won’t treat her in the same way?

If you did not see before are you beginning to see now?

Keep in mind Kamylla has been paying late fees on top of the rent. She has already been paying a higher rent through those penalties.

Discrimination-blocked from employment opportunities:

On the 23rd of May a grocery store where Kamylla had applied for a job eight months back finally contacted her about a possible position. Kamylla felt hopeful and walked to the store. She went in to see if she would be hired. Once at the store she was even given a date to go for a drug test before being hired but as she filled out a required form she came to a question regarding whether or not she had ever been arrested.

I can imagine her standing there feeling defeated once again as she told the manager interviewing her that she had been recently arrested. The manager was as nice about it as they could be, and from what she explained to me they told her they might have a job for her if and when her case was resolved but a case for theft, drugs or prostitution was a deal breaker for their store. There was no sense in her completing the application process at this time. She walked home in tears.

Kamylla now feels completely hopeless. Beaten down by everything. Her case has made it impossible for her to help herself through employment. She may end up homeless anyway.

She only engaged in sex work because she couldn’t find work and was facing eviction. Now, even if a job presents itself she will not be hired and cannot work- thanks to her arrest and record.

Are you beginning to see?

What was more damaging to Kamylla? The sex work she did or the circumstances which have resulted from her arrest?

PLEASE HELP WITH THE LAWYER FEE:

Kamylla has been desperately trying to find a lawyer in the local region who will actually advocate for her, and it appears she has- yet she has no money to pay him. When a person doesn’t have money to pay the rent, how are they going to pay a lawyer; let alone a good lawyer who will actually fight for her?

Kamylla, like so many others in similar circumstances, saw that her family was going to be homeless and she did what was within her power to do to buy a little food and to make sure her family wasn’t put out on the street.

This is a mother who is not willing to just sit there and do nothing during such a moment. She had to do SOMETHING and what she did- she did for her family. Putting an ad up and offering domination sessions (during which she says she never once actually had sex with any of her clients which is very common amongst bdsm and fetish based providers) was a last option which she chose to engage in on limited occasions and only once she found herself one step away from homelessness. She chose this form of work because of the boundaries involved.

Kamylla had only done sex work a few times when the 8 Minutes production came into her life looking FOR HER. They called HER. She made her situation clear to them and they made their many promises. She believed them. She WANTED it to be true. After her circumstances were used as ‘content’ for their show they blew her off. Many people associated with the 8 Minutes show had assured her that she need not place another ad. They told her someone would be contacting her.

She waited for help that never came.

By the time she understood that the assistance which the 8 Minutes production team had promised was never going to manifest she was in the red even deeper. She had believed they were going to give her a job- an employment situation. She wanted to work, she was not there ‘just for a handout’; Kamylla wanted a JOB. Kamylla wanted to be in control of her life and her family’s circumstances.

Within 24 hours of placing the ad, an ad that she had believed she would never need to place ever again, she is arrested.

Is poverty something we now punish people for? It appears so. Why not simply criminalize poverty outright?

Had Kamylla been able to find a sustainable work situation she would never have considered sex work. Now her burdens have been compounded and amplified thanks to her arrest.

Kamylla didn’t see herself as a victim. Now she IS a victim. Now she is being traumatized. Now she is a victim of poverty, a victim of a prostitution arrest and the subsequent circumstances involved. Kamylla has no previous criminal record of any kind. She is a person who was merely trying to feed and house her family.

She had ‘agency’ as a human being before her arrest, but the criminal record has taken that agency from her. Now she IS a victim.

At this juncture it is crucial that Kamylla receive adequate representation. She cannot accept a plea deal due to the circumstances related to her arrest. She has found a good trial lawyer but must raise the fee before her court date. She has only a couple of weeks to pull the money together. This is a very critical time.

We are trying to help Kamylla raise the funds needed for the lawyer. She also still needs assistance with the rent and food. She has been effectively shut down by her arrest.

Now can you see why so many in this situation go right back to sex work regardless of whether they want to or not? Do you see how the arrest and record only amplifies an already impossible situation?

Kamylla is not doing sex work. Kamylla is about to be evicted, she is blocked from being employed, she desperately needs money for a lawyer who will sincerely advocate for her, and I can’t help but return to the fact that had Pastor Brown and his advocates lived up to their narratives, had the production team of 8 Minutes lived up to their promises- NONE OF THIS WOULD BE HAPPENING.

THANK YOU!!

We can prevent the damage arrest causes by decriminalizing consensual erotic services. You can support this effort by supporting the US based case to decriminalize. DECRIMINALIZE CONSENSUAL ADULT EROTIC SERVICES!

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