(article found on change.org)
Published January 07, 2010 @ 08:42AM PTUPDATE: Thanks to commenter Larry Roberts for pointing out that this is a problem in San Francisco, too. Turns out, New York City is also guilty. Stay tuned: another post and action updates to come!
Think you might get lucky tonight? Well, if you're in D.C., don't bring more than two condoms in your purse, or you could be arrested as a prostitute.
In D.C., police can declare "Prostitution Free Zones" where officers can pick up (I mean, arrest) anyone suspected of sex work. And they've been accused of using carrying three or more condoms as proof of intent to sell sex -- rather than intent to spend the weekend getting jiggy with a guy.
But as RH Reality Check points out, the real danger of this law falls to people who actually are sex workers. It pushes them to abandon safe sex techniques, putting their own health at risk as well as that of the general population. Add to this the fear of arrest or harassment that keeps sex workers from seeking health care, and you have a recipe for disaster. Everybody should know by now that the nation's capital has a rampant problem with HIV/AIDS; this backwards law contributes to its spread (at three times the rate that characterizes a severe epidemic). It's not like you can expect the johns to bring their own rubbers.
This law prioritizes making commercial areas look clean and pretty lady-free, not protecting the public's health. But the root of the problem isn't this one law: it's the criminalization of sex work. If you want to criminalize something, stick to pimping -- after all, many of these women have been trafficked unwillingly and subjected to violence. If they weren't so afraid of being arrested for stepping forward to condemn their pimps, we'd have a better chance of finding the true criminals in this situation.