Vicky began selling sex at sixteen, ushered into the profession by an escort service driver she met as a runaway. She went from being trafficked to running an escort service, and in her years as a sex worker, Vicky a pseudonym plied her trade from the streets to indoor locations, advertising on Craigslist and Back.
But in Novemberwhen the General Assembly closed a loophole that allowed indoor prostitution,Vicky decided it was time to quit. She turned to office work, but the economic pressure was intense. Her story demonstrates some of the successes and the failures of the legislation, which outlawed indoor prostitution and made trafficking a minor for sex a specific crime.
But advocates who work with prostitutes feared that criminalizing indoor prostitution would only further penalize sex workers.
Prostitutes would continue to shoulder the heaviest burdens of the crime, they argued, and the new law made no provisions to help prostitutes leave that life. The younger generation is online. But there have been a of ificant changes. For one, with the express prohibition against indoor prostitution, the once-ubiquitous Asian massage parlors are now few.
State and federal authorities have also prioritized diverting minors from the sex trade, while prosecuting their traffickers. There has been a steady stream of high-profile cases, featuring teenaged and female traffickers, or adult men who lured young girls here from as far away as Texas or sold teens as young as fourteen years old.
But state court records also show that those who criticized the proposed laws in also saw their fears realized. Prostitutes who are older than eighteen are still more likely to be charged, more likely to plead guilty to prostitution charges and more likely to be jailed than their customers or their pimps.
Advocates say there are few resources for adult women who are driven into prostitution by poverty or addiction. Last year, law enforcement targeted not just the supply, but the demand.
Police in West Greenwich, Providence and Central Falls conducted stings that led to the arrests of sixty-five men, lured via Back to buy sex. To date, the United States Attorney and state Attorney General have prosecuted about thirty trafficking cases.
The state and federal prosecutors are cross-deated so they can work together in either state or federal court to try the accused in the right venue. The effort has produced some lengthy sentences for traffickers.
In October, Kemont Bowie, thirty-five, of Central Falls drew a thirteen-year sentence in federal prison, after pleading guilty to trafficking a seventeen-year-old and a homeless woman. Attorney Peter F. These are difficult cases, says state Assistant Attorney General Stacey Veroni, with prosecutorial challenges akin to domestic violence cases: victims who disappear, cultural and language barriers, the fear of retaliation from their traffickers.
Sincea statewide human trafficking task force, representing the criminal justice, medical and social welfare communities, has met monthly to develop policies, share resources, discuss cases and provide services to victims.
In January, it unveiled a protocol for identifying, screening for and responding to sex trafficking. These initiatives may yet benefit adult sex workers.
But, so far, the most comprehensive available data over the last six years illustrate that adult prostitutes are more likely to bear the most serious legal consequences of the crime, compared to johns or pimps. According to state court records, from tothere were charges against sex sellers; sixty-five against sex buyers and thirty-nine against traffickers. From tovery few sex buyers were charged — two on average. Sex sellers sustained many more charges, on average thirteen — a ratio of more than six to one.
Those charged with prostitution were more likely to wind up with a guilty plea than those charged with procuring sex for a fee, by a ratio of two to one. A one-day census of inmates at the Adult Correctional Institutions from to shows that an estimated 90 percent of those serving a prostitution-related sentence were women. The risk is the same, the violence is still the same, the shame, the guilt, the trauma is still the same.
Why do we have this distinction?
The woman regarded Rivera warily. She was trying to earn enough money to buy some heroin, and Rivera was interfering. March 7, Ellen Liberman.
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