By L’lerrét Jazelle Ailith
The city of New York has finally realized the errors of their ways and is making moves to end police street harassment of individuals suspected of prostitution, simply for carrying a condom, as USA Today reports. Prosecutors in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Long Island’s Nassau County and in San Francisco stopped using condoms as evidence in prostitution cases last year. The modus operandi for this change seems to be economic – being that the city pumped over one million dollars into the funding of distribution of free condoms to the people of the city.
The counterintuitive criminalization of those with condoms invalidates that public effort and causes the city to waste a huge amount of money by providing something that they in turn confiscate and police. The new policy will end the use of condoms in support of prostitution cases but it can be used as evidence in sex trafficking which can be really problematic.
Streetwise and Safe coordinator, Andrea Richie, commented that, “This is a step in the right direction but it doesn’t go far enough and creates a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.” The policy could produce a domino effect where the use of condoms will decrease and unsafe sex will increase, which exposes people to more sexually transmitted infections due to the fear of traffickers punishing sex workers who carry condoms, as noted by the LA Times. It’s a slippery slope and many civil rights groups are looking to extend the ban on condom use for evidence in sex trafficking and promotion of prostitution cases.
L’lerrét Jazelle Ailith is a 20-year-old queer woman of trans* experience. She attends Xavier University of Louisiana and is majoring in Biology with a minor in Women’s Studies. Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, L’lerrét has grown to appreciate the importance of fostering community and now dedicates herself to movements that eliminate barriers for marginalized people.