By: Armando Trull // January 24, 2012
A sign designating an area of downtown D.C. as a prostitution-free zone.
A controversial bill that would allow the city’s police chief to set up permanent prostitution-free zones will be taken up this morning by the D.C. Council. The bill lets police detain and arrest people suspected of engaging in street prostitution. Some of city’s gay activists are planning to fight the measure.
Transgender rights activists say the proposal to establish permanent prostitution free zones in the District is a thinly veiled attempt to drive transgendered women out of neighborhoods, regardless of whether they are sex workers or not. Currently, the Metropolitan Police Department can only set up a temporary zone that lasts 10 days.
Activists made a video this week to raise awareness of the bill and are planning to fight the legislation. Rubi Corrado is one of those activists. “These police officers are going ot have to make a choice, to address and arrest young individuals that are on the street trying to survive, or addressing real criminals, seasoned criminals,” Corrado said.
Yvette Alexander, the Ward 7 Council member who authored the bill, says prostitution is running rampant in some neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.
“We’re thinking either you make a decision, if there are going to be these prostitution free zones, then that’s my cue that I need to get out of the prostitution business,” Alexander said.
Some Council members believe the measure may be unconstitutional because the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down anti-loitering laws.
Prostitution Free Zone from PJ Starr on Vimeo.
Sex Trade workers and their supporters gather on the front steps of the Supreme Court of Canada building in Ottawa Jan. 19, 2012, to challenge Canada’s Criminal laws on adult prostitution
Video: Prostitution-law protest.