Russ Smith has a good post about Prof. Donna Hughes’ editorial in the Providence Journal and the process that led to the latest new bills. Sounds like this sausage mix sat on the counter for too long. Smith lists the many ways a broad and poorly defined law against prostitution can be applied to make it possible to arrest people who don’t think of themselves as ‘pros’.
I was in the Coalition Against Human Trafficking the first year, and we did succeed in getting a good law passed. The devil is in the implementation. If that guy washing dishes in the back room of a restaurant is suicidal with homesickness and his wages are paying off his indenture, who will crusade to save him? Where’s the glamor?
Early on, the Coalition began to focus on sex trafficking, which is an atrocious crime, but difficult to fight–even with the FBI few cases are prosecuted.
In the second year, the Coalition turned to an easier target–the Asian spas that operate so openly. There was the ‘loophole’ in the Rhode Island law, with political allies committed to closing it.
When you can’t win the game, move the goal posts.
I think prostitution is a bad thing, I think the body is the self, and to sell a kidney, or access to the body is a violation of personhood.
So I would rather see this trade out in the open, with laws enforced to protect people from crimes such as rape, assault, extortion and blackmail. Making prostitutes into criminals will drive them far from the legal system, which should be a protector from violent crime. I would rather see my tax money go to pursuing those who commit such crimes, who are a threat to everyone.
Tara Hurley heard Prof. Hughes’ testimony, and comments here.