Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Some Common Sense...

In New York City and other cities around the country the police arrest people for prostitution if they are carrying condoms. This is wrong for many reasons but mainly because they arrest innocent people and also it encourages unsafe sex. As usual, it is the trans*community that bears the brunt of the harassment.

The New York Times reported that,
The elasticity that officers in New York and elsewhere have been given to police quality-of-life violations has had the unfortunate effect of leaving transgender women, especially, susceptible to the charge that they must be engaged in sex work. What we have now, in some sense, is an actual fashion police — an attitude among some law enforcers that attaches criminality to sartorial choice. If you are a 35-year-old biological woman wearing the $715 metallic platform peep-toe pumps you just bought at Barneys to lunch at Café Boulud, you are well-dressed; if you were born Joaquin, have changed your name to Marisol and put yourself together with a similar verve, you are a prostitute.

Another component of this is the much-denounced use of condoms as evidence. “It can depend on which side of Sixth Avenue you’re standing on in the Village,” Andrea Ritchie, a lawyer with Streetwise and Safe, told me. “If you’re a student carrying condoms, you’re practicing good public health; if you’re a transgendered person of color, you’re a prostitute.”
Consider that in surveys it has been reported that in the trans*community AIDS/HIV is over four times the national average of HIV infection, with rates even higher among transgender people of color.

But there is some sanity that is now happening in San Francisco according to the Transgender Law Center,
Transgender Law Center applauds the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the San Francisco Police Department for their announcement (see below) that they will end all discussion concerning the evidence of condoms when convicting or acquitting someone for engaging in sex work.

Using condoms to indict people for engaging in sex work had a detrimental effect on San Francisco’s efforts to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. This victory is the result of cooperation between non-profit organizations, community activists, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission – and the Police and District Attorney.
Hopefully, other cities will follow San Francisco’s lead.

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