April 20, 2009

What's Keeping the Prostitution Loophole Open?

Marc Comtois

We've been remarking on the seemingly unconscionable inability of our General Assembly to close the indoor prostitution loophole (here, here, here) for a while now. The ProJo has editorialized about it and offered a fine investigative piece about it.

As I wrote in 2007, "Rep. Joanne M. Giannini...has done yeoman's work in presenting a comprehensive package of legislation that seeks to address all of the past issues that opponents have had." She's still submitting the bills (here and here) and still debating the vocal opposition. Opponents believe that closing the loophole will end up further victimizing the victims (prostitutes) because they fear the working girls will disproportionately bear the brunt of any enforcement. This is the argument that Senate Majority Leader Paiva-Weed has used in the past. But the truth of the matter is that the focus on human-trafficking, while related to prostitution, is simply the most socially acceptable ground to stand on for those who want to leave the loophole open. Rep. Giannini has taken steps to strengthen the penalties against human-traffickers and essentially exempt those compelled into the sex trade. Still, there is opposition.

Dan Yorke believes that the General Assembly leadership refuses to close the loophole for more personal reasons. In a nutshell, put some political leaders, their lifestyles and Allens Avenue all together and you'll see that they don't want to end the much-discussed heterosexual prostitution because it would bring an end to homosexual prostitution, too.

I don't know whether it's any, all or a combination of the above that is keeping the loophole open, but it's about time to close it. 48 other states and most of Nevada (heh) have a point.

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Dan, it probably has more to do with the lifestyle of the fellow who precedes you in the PRO broadcast booth.

Posted by: rhody at April 20, 2009 8:17 PM

It's pretty simple to understand why the GA doesn't want to change this - they are a bunch of whores.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at April 20, 2009 10:04 PM

"...they fear the working girls will disproportionately bear the brunt of any enforcement." ("working girls"?)

Then, heck. Let's legalize drugs, since with their prohibition, "working" dealers disproportionally bear the brunt enforcement.

Might as well legalize bribery and extortion too. Why should politicians and union thugs unfairly bear the brunt of enforcement?

Posted by: George at April 21, 2009 12:16 AM

I just don't like the whole "half-pregnant" approach to all this. RI should either jump in or jump out. Either ban all aspects of prostitution or embrace it and encourage the brothels like in Nevada. Set up the East Coast Bunny Ranch and make RI a destination. Heck, while we're at it, why not add a full-fledged casino too

Posted by: Patrick at April 21, 2009 7:47 AM

What about the fact that Rep. Gordon Fox also oversees these clubs in his role as chairman of the Board of Licenses for the city of Providence - a very lucrative gig.

Posted by: Patrick at April 21, 2009 1:54 PM

"I just don't like the whole "half-pregnant" approach to all this. RI should either jump in or jump out."

That would require the public taking of a stance, one way or the other. It's much easier to continue hiding behind a legal loophole.

Posted by: Monique at April 21, 2009 2:11 PM
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