The Worst Way to Combat Prostitution: Make Prostitutes 'Sex Offenders'

We read about "the dumbest-ass things that any state could possibly do" according to one retired New Orleans judge to prevent prostitution:

In their neighborhoods, they are sometimes taunted with dirty looks and jeers. Their pictures hang on the walls of local community centers where their children and grandchildren play. And their names and addresses are listed in newspapers and mailed out on postcards to everyone in the neighborhood.

Landing a job or even finding a landlord willing to give them a place to stay is a challenge.

These women wear a scarlet letter -- rather, 11 letters -- spelled out on their driver's licenses in bright orange text: SEX OFFENDER.

They aren't child molesters or pedophiles. Most are poor, hard-luck black women in New Orleans who agreed to exchange oral or anal sex for money. In doing so they violated the latest version of Louisiana's 206-year-old Crime Against Nature law, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and registration as a sex offender.

Opponents of the law say it is discriminatory and targets poor women and the gay and transgendered community who engage in what they call "survival sex."

Yes, desperate women trying to survive are treated as if they were kiddie rapists.

I realize there's a long-standing belief in this country that if you give someone who's down and out a couple more beatings, she will magically reform herslef. But how are these women ever supposed to go clean if they want to? This simply cements them into the sex industry underclass:

"As a result of our law, not only have we punished them for the mere saying of words, we've punished them to an extent greater than if they actually performed the sex act in public," said Calvin Johnson, a retired Orleans Parish criminal district judge, who said that during a 17-year career he found the law unconstitutional on three separate instances only to be overruled by the state Supreme Court each time. "We've punished them to the extent of a felony and made them a sex offender. We have 'X'-ed them out of social benefits, out of jobs, out of neighborhoods, out of housing, which has an adverse effect on society."

Keep in mind, these women are being labelled sex offenders simply for talking about oral or anal sex ('vaginal' prostitution is a misdemeanor offense). And this is what these women are subjected to--by the state:

Once on the sex offender registry, their state identification cards, driver's licenses and, in some cases, license plates are stamped with the words "Sex Offender".

They must send out postcards to every single neighbor -- in a one-mile radius in rural communities, three-fourths of a mile in the city -- and must foot the bill for postage. Employers, even at places like fast-food joints, shy away from employing sex offenders. Landlords are weary of associating their addresses with sex offenders. And as the federal report noted, most agencies and in-treatment rehabilitation programs do not accept sex offenders.

This is not helping. Many prostitutes are combating drug addiction problems--and now they legally can't get treatment for their addiction. And this won't help combat the spread of sexually transmitted diseases if they are driven further underground.

Yesterday, on the Boston Common, I watched part of the Slut Walk rally, which is an important anti-rape statement.

But who will speak for these women?

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This simply cements them into the sex industry underclass

The system is working as intended.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 08 May 2011 #permalink

Because officially ostracizing the exploited and disadvantaged has always been the best way to combat crime...

I'm reminded of the publisher's preface to the first edition of Victor Hugho's "Les Miserables":

"So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the midst of civilization, artificially creates a hell on long as the three problems of the century--the degradation of man by the exploitation of his labor, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the atrophy of childhood by physical and spiritual night--are not solved; so long asphyxia shall be long as ignorance and misery remain on Earth, there shall be a need for books such as this."

Given that one of the central characters in that story was forced into prostitution so that she could feed her child after she was fired from her job for being an unwed mother (the father left her while she was pregnant)...this quote seems both quite topical here and sadly relevant to the culture wars we are fighting to this day.

It is a sad reality that if Fantine had lived in 21st century America, unless she were lucky enough to have a compassionate employer or live in a state where she could have easily obtained an abortion (had she so chosen), her story would have had a similarly tragic ending.

Food for thought.

Possibly even worse is the way in which many trafficed women in the UK are treated as criminals rather than victims when caught by the UK Border Agency. There is an appalling case recently documented in the Guardian, where one poor women was sent back to her home country (after a dreadful life in forced sex work), only to be caught again by her trafficers and exploited again.

Rather than go after the easy hit of jailing poor (often drug addicted) women with little options open to them, perhaps the authorities should try protecting, supporting and actually helping them - and think about why they need to do why they do and who pays them.

I think indoor prostitution should be decriminalized, not legalized as there is a HUGE difference.……

Once you do a bit of reading what you find out is that back in the 19th century, marriage WAS SLAVERY. Women were not allowed to leave home till they married and marriage was a BUSINESS. Women were not allowed to go in public alone, nor work or vote and if they inherited property it became their husbands and the husband was FREE to beat and rape his wife.
In 1910 we created the MANN ACT (the white slavery act) that was suppose to be to stop Human Trafficking, yet the real reason was to stop white women from fraternizing with black men. The Mann Act also gave CONGRESS its power and formed the FBI.
Our federal law states that each state has the right NOT make its own prostitution laws and in order to be charged with the Mann act one would have to exploit another person into prostitution and cross state lines. This was the way the Fed's are suppose to intervene.
Yet in 2010 the FBI spend a 800,000 grant in just 3 days supposedly to do a 3 day nationwide child prostitution sting. After arresting 884 people, we had 69 TEEN RUNAWAYS, along with their 99 pimps boyfriends and also caught up in the mix were over 700 adults looking to meet with another consenting adult in private. During this sting, more middle aged people were arrested than THE TEENS THEY WANTED TO RESCUE.

Now we have Bill hr 5575 gong to congress which is to ask for hundreds of millions for services for these TEEN victims and the bill clearly states that any women over the age of 20 would NOT be eligible for services, and most of the money would be spend training FBI and vice to STALK MIDDLE AGED ESCORTS ONLINE.
Now every city already has a whole juvenile court, a dept of child services, foster homes, boot camps and reform schools, but the women OVER 20 years of age have NO SERVICES. These people are trying to convince us that these RUNAWAY TEENS ARE VICTIMS and they are really UNGOVERNABLE TEENS that ran off with their boyfriends that exploited them. Are we not suppose to hold these teens accountable for their own behavior, why return them them with no real intervention to just run off again, and why is the parents not being held accountable for the COST OF RESCUING THEIR UNGOVERNABLE TEEN. Why not lock these teens up to protect them from themselves?
Original prostitution laws were created "to stop a women from showing her wares in public" The media likes to portray all prostitutes as curb crawling drug addicts and yet most are really middle aged single parents desperately trying to escape POVERTY.
Last year we spend 250 million to arrest 80,000 people for prostitution, that 250 million could have housed 80,000 women and children long term.

Yet anyone wanting to legalize prostitution wants the women to help pay off the deficit, nobody is even considering creating long term services for women who do want to exit the industry. Or they want these women to be forced to work in brothels where they would have to give half their earnings to the brothel owner, pay rent and then pay taxes and not be able to refuse any clients.
We are no dumb women, we know how to screen clients, advertise and choice our rates for our time. We not not need to be regulated anymore than any other business does, so why would we place regulations on this industry that is not placed on any other business. Why do we make it our business?
In Rhode Island, in 1976 a federal laws suit was filed in RI by a women named Mona St.James who later formed the organization COYOTE . The complaint was what right did they state have in the sexual conduct of consenting adults, and also they were only arresting the women and not the men. The case was dismissed by a compromise and indoor prostitution became legal in RI in 1979.
For 30 years there was never one case of human trafficking, women could work for massage spas or from their homes. There was never one public nuisance complaint in over 30 years (too bad we can't say that about nightclubs). The police never bothered to go into any spa, and check for ID to make sure the girls were of legal age and in the country legally. Yet they did run front page news articles about how sad it was that one could buy sex a block from city hall. These businesses were licensed and paid taxes and they even donated money to the state police and other local charities and the women spend their money in the other local businesses.
In 2009 the Craigslist killer, killed a girl in Boston and then went to RI and robbed a escort and he was CAUGHT because the escort dialed 911 as she had PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.

Then in Nov 2009 they criminalize indoor prostitution (putting all the women in the state in harms way) as they claimed they could not investigate human trafficking without criminalizing us.
Ironically the police go in to strip clubs all the time and do ID checks and ask the girls if they are OK but for some reason they insisted this would not work in RI.
Now we have 10 women who have murdered in Long Island and even though they knew at least 5 of these girls were online escorts, the cops told the media that serial killers rarely murder hookers, one man on Long Island reported the women coming to door asking for help and when he told her he was calling the cops to help her, she ran off and has never been seen again. The man reported this in May 2010 and it took till Aug 2010 for them to follow up, and even a CNN reported wants to know if a prompt investigation was not done because after all these girls were JUST HOOKERS. is a place dedicated to THE SAFETY & PROTECTION of escorts, we are trying to find services for women WHO do want to exit the industry and we are also trying to create new laws to protect sex workers and stop the discrimination against them.
Some cites want to create JOHN school so the men can walk away within criminal record. Even if a women has a 20 year old prostitution conviction, she can never get a job, or even rent an apartment.
Law enforcement is in the news weekly, for exploiting these TEENS themselves, or for abusing hookers and some of these women are even raped and beaten while in custody just because they are prostitutes.
To go a step further we ENCOURAGE society to hate these women with the "they get what they deserve attitude". The cops brag to the media that they will continue to run these women from there communities. Do we really think these women would be better off or an safer living in the streets?

Since they criminalize all the women in RI, the homeless rate for women in RI has increased 20% so far this year and the shelters are FULL.
Now lets look at MORALS. It is legal and even sociably acceptable for a women to pick up a strange man in a nightclub, bring him he and have unprotected sex with him, while her small children are in the home. Men are now reporting that most women give it up by the 3rd date.
Then we have the REAL HATERS that say they do NOT want it in their neighborhoods, while I agree with no allowing BROTHELS or Spa's In a residential neighborhood, but wha about the independent escort. If you can have sex with whoever in your home, why can't I, and we seem to only have issues with sex WHEN ITS NOT FREE.
A Canadian judge ruled last year "that no public nuisance equals allowing women to be murdered" of course its ow in appeals court and they are trying to stop the sex workers from being able to testify in court.
Then lets look at how the cops investigate these women, they use SWAT TEAMS to kick in the doors or these women homes, and then issue them a summons to appear, and some of these women are held on bonds as high as 20,000 even though they have not been charged with a felony.
Sex workers are always court ordered for STD testing but the MEN/CLIENTS are not, even though they are the ones with the riskiest behaviors and even though our own heath dept studies show that "hookers have less std's than the general public does and this is also true in Canada and these facts were presented to RI politicians by a Canadian Dr.
NY has created a law that ANYONE CAN BE ARRESTED FOR CARRYING CONDOMS, that is not the way to promote safe sex, I think law enforcement WHO is swore to PROTECT & SERVE should be out handing out condoms to the street girls to help protect them and the public.

Now lets look a the Human Trafficking adovactes that have bene collecting donations for the fight against human trafficking for years, the provide no services to the victims; instead the spend the money touring the country, like a politcan, lying to the media about how many teens are being exploited. These groupd are anit prostition groups in disguise and are the one PUTTING OUR YOUTH & WOMEN AT RISK by RWEFUSING US the same SANCTION & PROTECTION under the law given to all other citizens. Now if this is really about human trafficking, then why when they find a midlde aged escort do they arrest her?
If we decriminalize and make these women pay for a year license which would go to the heath dept so these women would have access to Health care, the women could pay taxes into state, federal and social security and even unemployment, but part of their taxes would go directly for services for women WHO want to exit the adult industry.
I always want to ask one of these DO GOODERS that if they were cold enough and hungry enough don't they think they would turn a trick for a blanket and burger, so why be so JUDGMENTAL about SEX.

Pool your money.
Find a congressman, judge, leader of the business community.
Tape him proposing or agreeing to noncommercial oral sex.
Privately prosecute him for sodomy. Get "sex offender" on his license.
Rinse and repeat, until they repeal this stupid, stupid law.

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Each year by some estimates, hundreds of thousands of girls and boys are trafficked globally. Human trafficking is a global issue.
Very few people are actually aware of how large the problem is. Even if people are aware, they generally turn a blind eye towards the entire situation. For this reason, the level of awareness needs to be increased drastically.
"Sold: An MTV EXIT Special", a gripping documentary presented by Indian actress and UNFPA Ambassador, Lara Dutta. The Program introduces the tragedy of trafficking in South Asia where thousand of young girls and boys are sold into modern-day slavery and shows how each one of us can help to prevent modern-day slavery.
To watch this documentary online visit

Possibly even worse is the way in which many trafficed women in the UK are treated as criminals rather than victims when caught by the UK Border Agency. There is an appalling case recently documented in the Guardian, where one poor women was sent back to her home country (after a dreadful life in forced sex work), only to be caught again by her trafficers and exploited again.
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