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Law enforcement officials know that there are many sex workers who do indeed choose to engage in this work to earn a living [again, here I am not going to challenge the nonsensical arguments that these women may be 'economically coerced' into prostitution to earn a living, even though the obvious fact is that everyone who is not born into wealth is economically coerced into some job to earn a living including occupations which I would consider truly demeaning- such as cleaning toilets or changing the diapers of incapacitated adults in nursing homes]. Consequently, there is a great deal of latitude in enforcement of the laws, both officially and unofficially sanctioned by law enforcement agencies and prosecutors alike. Every cop knows that they can turn a prostitute into an informant, and in many cases, not only is it expected but encouraged by the department.
The first and official sanction comes from recent court rulings, which authorize law enforcement agencies to hire and use prostitutes as agents- who, with full knowledge and authorization of law enforcement authorities, will have sex with another suspected "criminal." I use the word 'another' suspect because the prostitute herself is a criminal under the law. I should also point out that a Spokane WA judge ruled that police agents may actually have sex with a prostitute in order to make an arrest.... which I have shown is being done on a regular basis anyway.
The second official sanction comes from the law enforcement agencies which acknowledge that they frequently rely on prostitutes and madams as informants. Stated former San Diego Police Chief Bob Burgreen “Dealing with prostitutes- especially on an informant basis- is a very large part of our business and that perhaps citizens in a largely conservative community like San Diego have a hard time understanding that.” (San Diego Tribune, September 30, 1990)
One might ask what criteria the police use to determine which women it is acceptable to exploit (through their continued unrestricted prostitution activities) and which women need the protection of the criminal justice system (through their arrest and incarceration)? The answer is that those prostitutes and madams who are willing to comply with the extortion demands of law enforcement officers are the ones who get to be "exploited" while the rest are "rescued" and sent to jail for noncompliance and being uncooperative. Unfortunately, the extortion demands often go beyond what is officially sanctioned by law enforcement agencies and courts which recognize the use of "informants" as being important to overall crime control.
What are the other demands? Primarily sexual favors, but a close second is a demand for money from the prostitute. In the order of the frequency of demands from law enforcement agents, prison guards, prosecutors and judges- sex is first, money is second and information is third, although of the three, information is the only officially sanctioned interaction. It is the sexual favors (rape) demanded by the cops, prison guards, prosecutors and judges that I shall explore here, because they are the most well documented by the media when officers are caught with their pants down.
Prostitutes are by no means the only recipients of (unofficial) sexual demands from officers, but they are the most vulnerable to abuse at the hands of law enforcement officers. Other unfortunate women who may be victims of crimes (in addition to prostitutes) and women who have been arrested (and are therefore criminal suspects just like prostitutes) are also targets of sexual exploitation and murder from bad cops.
This story is from the LA Daily News on August 26, 2004, "A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was indicted Wednesday on federal civil rights violations, alleging he used his authority to fondle a woman and to force three others to have sex with him ............ Gabriel Gonzalez, 36, faces life in federal prison and $1.1 million in fines if convicted of the allegations contained in the five-count indictment............ Since mid-2001, the department has convicted more than 200 defendants of such violations."
The article does not mention whether the women whose rights were violated were suspected prostitutes, although I have my suspicions that they were, since this is typical behavior for officers who have custody of such women. For the sake of argument let's say they were not suspected prostitutes but just women who happened to be in the custody of Officer Gonzalez. If law enforcement agents are willing to rape a teenager or attempt sexual battery upon a victim of domestic violence, certainly all other women (including other teenage girls) and especially prostitutes are fair game!
All we can ask is, if cops can't be trusted with non-prostitute women or even underage girls, how does anyone think these officers are going to protect the "human rights" or "dignity" of prostitutes? Is it sexual exploitation when a law enforcement officer forces himself on a woman and demands sexual favors in exchange for her freedom? Surely it must be, and if so, how can anyone believe that a continued system of total criminalization of all prostitution- whereby a police officer has the power and authority to threaten to put a prostitute in jail unless she cooperates- is in any way less exploitative and a serious violation of a woman's human rights and dignity than prostitution?
Is not the sexual exploitation, rape and even murder of prostitutes by law enforcement officers the sexual exploitation of all women? If law enforcement officers have so little regard for the human rights of prostitutes that they view them as non-human, is this not to the detriment of all women? And does not the sexual exploitation of women by police officers pose a significantly greater- and real- danger to the well being of all women than that of the subjective sexual exploitation of those who, as adults, agree to engage in sex with others for a price? As long as they don’t charge for it, women can engage in the exact same activity without "fear of sexual exploitation," which begs the question, where does the exploitation come in when one is being paid so that one can pay one's bills? Is all labor exploitation as communism suggests it is? Or just that labor which involves pleasure?
When one is confronted by the volumes of newsarticles regarding officers who have been caught with their pants down, one wonders if there are any police officers left anywhere who are not sexual exploiters of women, and if indeed male cops can be trusted around women at all (or around male prostitutes, too, for that matter). The answer is that yes, of course there are good cops and good judges and good prison guards, but they truly do have a code of silence which prevents them from squealing on their colleagues who violate the rights of others through their misconduct. Despite the conviction of some 200 officers, the majority of abusive cops get away with it, because the majority of prostitute women who have been abused by a cop do not dare file a complaint against the officer/ prison guard /prosecutor/judge who extorted or sexually violated them. Those rare and courageous prostitutes who do report their abusers can end up dead.
In the current system of criminalization, all prostitutes are treated the same by the law- because they are all outlaws. As shown earlier, however, prostitutes are not treated the same by law enforcement officers. In the past, the police needed to set up sting operations to trap a suspected prostitute or client into committing a violation. As the prostitutes - that is those who were willingly engaging in prostitution- became more and more savvy, the police found they needed more effective "tools" in order to trap the suspected prostitutes. A number of states have tried to increase the penalties for misdemeanor prostitution and allow the clients to testify against the prostitutes in exchange for their own anonymity. In some places, the police use novel tactics such as the confiscation of the prostitutes' clothing to discourage prostitutes from returning to work upon their release from jail. In Los Angeles a few years ago, the cops went after a donut shop which sold donuts to suspected prostitutes. And a Metro Police (Nashville, TN) spokesman stated, “Police have had to change their tactics as criminals [prostitutes] have learned to thwart older methods, and.…. it has become increasingly difficult even to engage in conversation about prostitution at a business under suspicion without being nude.” Laws were enacted which allowed police officers to actively solicit the suspected prostitute/ client (such activity was previously considered entrapment and was illegal) and make an arrest once the suspect "manifested an acceptance of the offer" by shaking the head or smiling -therefore we called this the "use a smile go to jail" law.
When that law was no longer effective because those darn exploited women figured out what it meant to “manifest an acceptance of an offer” from an undercover cop, the California legislature gave the police a new tool which has the potential for unimaginable abuse: the police can arrest a person and charge them with "possessing the intent to commit prostitution"- even if that person is in their car, whether moving or not.... and an act of furtherance can be the possession of a condom. If that isn't an obvious discouragement of the practice of carrying them for sexual encounters, what is? And if the police are out of control in their every day interaction with women (200 convictions of law enforcement agents for civil rights violations- and that is only the officers who got caught!) imagine what this new law allows the police to do to prostitute women's rights?
While the law views all prostitutes, pimps and panderers as outlaws, when the panderers are police- neither the laws or the penalties are imposed on them. Even though pandering is a felony in California and many other states, and when committed by the average individual the penalty is extremely severe- the violation of this law by a New Jersey police chief is not considered an endangerment of the safety of the community. In San Francisco, a couple of vice cops hired a prostitute to perform oral sex on a rookie officer at a graduation ceremony- an act which if committed by anyone other than a cop is considered felony pandering. The cops were not only not indicted, but the other cops felt it was a waste of time for the grand jury to have spent time investigating the cops at all! And interestingly enough, the day following her testimony in front of the grand jury, the prostitute at the center of the scandal- who had been pandered by the two officers - was arrested on suspicion of prostitution- even though that was the very reason she was hired by the two vice cops in the first place.
Back to my earlier question, if law enforcement cannot be trusted to protect either "good women" or prostitutes, how can radical feminists, courts and legislators continue to trust law enforcement agents with proper enforcement of laws which prohibit prostitution [or pornography, as these feminists and religious conservatives include in their long term goals to eliminate]? These abuses are not going to go away, as any honest politician or cop will concede. Feminists, legislators, religious conservatives or any others who think otherwise are far too nescient to be allowed to inspire, influence, author or enact legislation if they believe that human nature has changed significantly to make one postulate that the integrity of the police officer of the twenty-first century will no longer be compromised when pitted against these unenforceable laws and the temptations that confront them!
Here I should state unequivocally that- unlike the inconsistent philosophy of radical feminists, legislators and religious conservatives who assert that, based of the actions of some, all "johns and pimps" are the embodiment of evil and deserve to be arrested and punished- I do not believe that all cops are bad, nor even most cops, despite the many, many incidents of police abuse and corruption. What is even worse for prostitutes than the unjustified all-encompassing accusations of abuse at the hands of all "johns and pimps," is that neither the radical leftist feminists and their converts in government (the legislators) nor the religious conservatives take into account the abuse we suffer at the hands of law enforcement, despite those many and well- documented cases, which far outnumber the ones I am presenting in this article!
If they were truly concerned about our well being, you would think that they would worry just as much about how we are abused at the hands of those paid to "protect us" as they believe we are abused by those who pay our rent. They do not even acknowledge this very real hazard- instead, they choose to ignore the world-wide evidence that bad laws make bad cops, and that without the ability to focus solely on "forced" prostitution [which includes the use of underage people], cops can and do misuse the laws and arbitrarily enforce them for their own personal gain. If we were discussing the violation of the rights of minorities at the hands of the police, no doubt the radical leftist feminists and many Democrats would agree that the cops can and do often misbehave... but religious conservatives would undoubtedly dismiss any allegations of police misconduct as being "anti- law enforcement." They tend to have the misguided (and dangerous) notion that police corruption and abuse does not exist and all law enforcement officers must be supported at all costs by the community, or else those who denounce the cops for any reason are committing some sort of treason! "We must never admit the existence of police corruption, no matter what!"
[This is the same type of deluded thinking exhibited by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that allowed- for so long- pedophilic, predatory priests to continue their abuse of young boys and girls. Now that we are all too aware of this deplorable behavior, thanks to the brave victims who fought so hard to expose those true venal criminals, where are the Michael J. Horowitzs or Rich Lowrys clamoring for the abolition of the Catholic Church- which, from the very top, denied the claims of the victims and covered up the criminal behavior of its priests for many, many years- as an institution and denouncing these acts as "pure evil"? The tragic and heartwrenching stories trotted out by those seeking to eliminate prostitution are used as "proof" that all "johns" and "pimps" are evil and should be punished, so why aren't the heart-wrenching stories of so many priests' victims proof that all priests are potential child molesters? I am not saying that all priests are pedophiles, but then, neither are all "johns and pimps" the incarnation of evil!]
The credibility of radical feminists must be called into question if they continue to support criminal legislation of all forms of prostitution as a means of achieving their goal to eliminate sex work. If they refuse to recognize the vast and fundamental difference between forced prostitution (slavery) and consenting adult sex work, they do not have the best interests of prostitutes or any other women OR children at heart. If they will not acknowledge the horrible damage and destruction of lives caused not by the work itself but by the laws which prohibit voluntary, adult commercial sexual activity, they cannot continue to claim moral high ground for their position of the 'elimination' of all forms of violence against women, if it was ever theirs to claim. Their current demand for the "decriminalization of the prostitute and the criminalization of the johns and pimps" is either constructed out of their complete and utter cluelessness about the reality of law enforcement, and they naively believe that the cops won't use the laws against the prostitutes ("if you don't give me the sex, money or information, I will arrest YOUR clients today, honey"), or it is out of their callous disregard for the rights of men that they insist on a blanket condemnation of those men who use our services and those with whom we engage in business (such as madams, brothel owners, escort service owners and even other sex workers with whom we trade clients, all of whom fall into the category of "pimps" because we give them money we earn in prostitution. Can you imagine what would happen to professional sports if agents were prohibited from receiving money from their star athletes because it was considered exploitation? Who would negotiate those hefty fees for the services of the jocks? Why is it considered exploitation for women to have someone negotiate fees for our services and then receive a piece of the action as payment?).
It is not surprising that the religious conservatives have bedded down with these radical feminists- because, as I earlier explained, their moral crusade against prostitution was a bust, so joining forces with these radical feminists infused their cause with new life- and rather than sell the public on a lame crusade to eliminate all vices, their collusion with the feminists to "protect" prostitutes from "a violation of their human rights and dignity" was sure to win the sympathy of the media and the public. Which is all the more reason not to let the voices of the many intelligent, articulate sex workers be heard- it would just confuse the issue and the public might question the campaign to eliminate porn and prostitution. Especially when they see the price tag for this campaign!
[A word of warning to the radical feminists who support the right of women to have abortions- the religious conservatives just may successfully attempt to use the same subjective argument that is used against prostitution- that abortion exploits women and children and that it is a violation of human rights...]
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