RI: Prostitution and human trafficking are two separate issues

June 30, 2:28 PM

Today’s Providence Journal has a column by Ed Achorn that is so misguided, that it is difficult to figure out where to start. The column criticizes the loophole in Rhode Island law which makes prostitution legal, if it occurs indoors. For a multitude of reason, the current law is effective and should remain unchanged. It makes prostitution on the streets illegal, yet doesn’t criminalize consensual sex between adults that occurs behind closed doors. Edward Achorn seems to get side-tracked, and confuses several issues. This particular passage is a good example:

By refusing to pass a good law specifically banning indoor prostitution, Rhode Island is saying yes to the brutal exploitation of teenage girls and young women, many of them foreigners who are held in this strange land as virtual slaves. Their pimps are experts at preying on young women, with the help of drugs, coercion and “protection,” to keep them in slavery, miserably toiling in the fields of prostitution — serving perhaps a dozen men a day to help earn pimps hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Mr. Achorn brings up crimes that are troubling and serious. What he doesn’t seem to realize is that there are already laws on the books to address these issues. The state and federal government already have human trafficking laws on the books. If a prostitute is under the age of consent, statutory rape laws would apply. If she is being held against her will and assaulted, then charges of assault, sexual assault, and kidnapping could be brought against the perpetrator. Why does Edward Achorn want prostitution laws to apply? Is it so we can arrest the victims of human trafficking who have been assaulted and put them in jail? Of course not.

Those who want to make indoor prostitution illegal use human trafficking as an excuse to go after consensual activity. Their arguments are disingenuous and misinformed. They also seem to feel that criminalizing prostitution will make it go away. Prostitution is illegal in 48 states, yet it still occurs in all of those states. It isn’t called the world’s oldest profession for nothing.

There is one thing Edward Achorn was correct about. It does seem as though members of the General Assembly are intentionally trying to dodge the issue. It would be nice to see them vote against a bill that criminalizes consensual activity between adults, but that seems to be asking too much. After all, how often does the General Assembly actually do the right thing?

Original at Examiner


  1. We have been told over and over again that we need a prostitution law to save the “slaves”? We have been told the police wanted a law so they could go in and interview the women and get to the pimps and human traffickers. When Senator Jabour introduced a law that would let the police go in, the police said that the law was not strong enough because the women would just be getting a ticket and not be put in prison. What?!?!

    I call Shenanigans!!!
    So you mean to tell me that for the past four years Gianinni and the Police said they could not go in and save the women from the pimps and human traffickers because they had no law to go in and talk to the women, and then when they got a bill from Senator Jabour, they all came out and said that the bill was not strong enough because the women would not be sent to prison!!! It is obvious that Gianinni and the police do not want to help the women.

    Especially when the police say giving a ticket is not good enough for this “reprehensible act”.
    I guess Gianinni and the Police don’t really want to save the “slaves”, because they could do what they have been asking to do for the last 4 years with out arresting the women.

    Please go to Achorn’s editorial and leave a comment.

  2. Finally someone brave enough to point out the fact that human trafficking is often used as a red herring in the prostitution debate. Anyone who supports the right for people to pay for sex immediately become guilty of supporting human trafficking of innocent children! Pul-eeze!!

    My favorite analogy is that of drinking alcohol and drunken driving automobile accidents. Just like trafficking is associated with prostitution, drunken driving is associated with alcohol consumption. But would most people be in support of banning alcohol to save all these thousands of innocent live that are taken each year after being hit by a drunken driver? Most probably not. In this case, we correctly recognize that drunken driving is an undesirable (and illegal) side-effect too often associated with public alcohol consumption. ANd the correct response is to control and regulate the legal activity (consumption of alcohol) such that it does not lead to undesirable side-effects (deaths due to drunken driving). Why them, do we treat the relationship between prostitution and human trafficking so radically different? Well, we all know the answer to that really. Because it involves that dirty, immoral thing called SEX. And we all know, deep down in our hearts, that sex really is wrong. Right?

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