By JIM DWYER
Last year, New York City health workers gave out 37.2 million condoms. That works out to an average of 70 condoms every minute of the year. The city got into mass-scale condom distribution to help prevent the spread of debilitating and deadly diseases.
On the other hand, the condoms are also used to mark people for arrest on prostitution charges.
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Sex workers are anti sex-trafficking. It seems obvious (of course they have an interest in making the industry as safe as possible), and yet you might not know this because sex workers rights activists have not gotten any air-time from the major anti-trafficking organizations.
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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.
President Obama declared January National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. As part of these thirty days, IOFA would like to pose a question each week that initiates critical dialogue and hopefully some thought-provoking conversation with friends.
These days, anti-trafficking organizations and statistics abound, but we’ve siphoned through the media coverage to find some articles that highlight the complexity of the situation.
Feministing’s take: http://feministing.com/2012/01/04/potus-declares-human-trafficking-prevention-month/
Trafficking legislation states that if the age of an individual has been verified to be under 18, and the individual is in any way involved in the commercial sex industry, or has a record of prior arrest for prostitution (or related charges), then he or she is a victim. One Wisconsin man’s recent arrest even stemmed from advocacy on behalf of an adult sex worker who found his request for an 8-year-old girl offensive. You can read the article here: http://www.channel3000.com/news/30136733/detail.html
Vulnerable adolescents under the age of 18 are clearly victims of trafficking, but what about adults? Thousands of people take part in the sex trade each year. Many of them declare their work a choice. So, our question to you, is, should all sex work be considered trafficking? Take our poll here:http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FBSWDV7
~Summar Ghias, Program Development Intern