Politics

Yalies Rally for Legal Prostitution

Students, activists call for an end to 'police terror' and the decriminalization of sex offenses

Roughly 25 Yale University affiliates and residents from New Haven, Connecticut, gathered at roughly 11 a.m. Friday outside City Hall to protest the recent arrests of 13 prostitutes and call for prostitution to be legalized.

The protesters rallied against the New Haven Police Department for conducting a sting operation in October that led to the arrests of the 13 women for charges of prostitution. Activists distributed pamphlets calling for the end of “police terror” and — claiming that there are “no bad women” but “only bad laws” — they called for an end to all sex worker investigations and demanded that prostitution continue unfettered.

“We don’t make laws, we enforce them,” Hartman said, adding that the NHPD cannot “turn a blind eye to kids walking outside their houses and seeing condoms on the street.”

“The women and men who work in the sex trade are human beings, and most of the time in New Haven and around the bigger cities they are engaged in sex work out of economic necessity,” Beatrice Codianni, the managing editor of a criminal justice advocacy website, Re-Entry Central, told the Yale Daily News. “Arresting them is never going to solve the problem.”

The activists also took particular umbrage with the publication of 13 women’s names and photos in local newspapers, saying the actions endangered the women, caused them undue shame, and constituted a “violent form of state control” over women’s bodies. The protesters called for the decriminalization of sex work.

Prostitution remains one of the most dangerous professions in the world, according to HG.org. The death rate for U.S. prostitutes stands at 204 for every 100,000, which is far worse than the death rate for high-fatality professions such as Alaskan fisherman, oil rig workers, or loggers.

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The financial cost of busting and reining in the dangerous practice is also expensive. Between 70,000 and 80,000 prostitutes are arrested each year, costing U.S. taxpayers roughly $200 million.

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“We don’t provide social services, but our sincere hope is that those who have gotten into the system — these are people who have been involved in this servitude-like crime for years — will avail themselves of social services,” NHPD spokesman David Hartman told the Yale Daily News as he pointed toward the city’s recent efforts to connect sex workers with job training services and substance abuse counseling.

“We don’t make laws, we enforce them,” Hartman said, adding that the NHPD cannot “turn a blind eye to kids walking outside their houses and seeing condoms on the street.”

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