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UPDATE: DC police clarify that condoms can be used as a factor in arrest -- but that a person would also have to be congregating with another person, "late at night with no apparent destination" (how often does that happen anyway?) to receive a disperse order, and getting caught congregating again later within the PFZ "will result in arrest without a second warning." We urge you to sign the petition telling the mayors of D.C., New York, and San Francisco that using condoms as a factor discourages sex workers from practicing safe sex and is a public health disaster, especially given the risk of spreading HIV/AIDS.
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) issue a disperse order to anyone they have "sufficient cause" to suspect 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. Update: As stated above, a spokesperson clarifies that "sufficient cause" can be "congregating with at least one other person ... late at night with no apparent destination, and in possession of multiple condoms." Failure to disperse, or getting caught again later congregating within the PRZ, will get you arrested "without a second warning." So don't worry too much -- condoms could be a factor in arrest, but you'd also have to be hanging out with someone in the dark, and fail to get out of the PFZ.
But as RH Reality Check points out, the real danger of this practice falls to people who actually are sex workers. [Update: due to some confusion in articles that have picked this story up, we've changed the term "law" to "practice," since by "law" we intended to refer to the declaration of Prostitution Free Zones, as distinguished from the enforcement practice of using condoms as evidence. The minimal other requirements for "sufficient cause" directly discourages sex workers from carrying condoms.] 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 practice 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 practice 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 practice: 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.
source : http://womensrights.change.org/blog/view/dont_carry_condoms_in_dc_--_you_could_be_charged_with_prostitution
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