Tag Archives: prostitution in rhode island

Forgiveness

Today is Easter.  I was raised Catholic and told that Easter was about forgiveness. Although I would not consider myself a practicing Catholic, I do believe that forgiveness is important part of life, and not just a part of this season.

One part of the prostitution law that passed in November was this allowance of forgiveness.   Women who were charged with prostitution would be able to get their first offense expunged.  This was a very important part of the law, to me this was the most important part of the law.  It would allow for the women to not face life with a burden of a criminal record.  It would allow them to not face employment or housing discrimination.  This would allow them a second chance, where they would not be destined to be in the lifestyle if they wanted to get out. (This only applied for first time offenders)

Well it seems that a few women decided they wanted to get out.  They wanted to change their lives, to be able to apply for jobs without marking down they had a criminal record.  We all know that the job search in Rhode Island is abysmal, 3rd highest unemployment in the country, can you imagine if you had the Scarlet letter of a prostitution charge on your file?

One women commented on this blog:

I work for a social service agency that assists ex-offenders. Last month, several of the women we assist applied for expungement of previous prostitution related offenses. ALL met the current criteria (had only one offense), and ALL WERE DENIED in the 6th District by one VERY prejudice and lousy jurist.

It is sad that this law that was changed with the mantra of “Helping the women” has not helped one iota.

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OMG moment of the day

Oh My God.  I have been out of commission for a few days doing my civic duty…Jury Duty!  So I haven’t been blogging.  Actually I haven’t been blogging or saying much on this topic lately because not much has been going on.  The law passed last November with pressure to “Help the Women and Children” and this past week we helped them…by arresting them.

Nick Horton has an excellent article at the Providence Daily Dose about the Raids

Until the details of the arrests come out, it will be impossible to say for certain whether there is any evidence of human trafficking in the spas where the arrests occurred.  All three of the women were released by the judge on bail, meaning that the state did not hold any of them for interrogation as part of a human trafficking investigation or place them in protective custody as potential victims of trafficking.  Proponents of the legislation previously argued that arresting women for indoor sex work would allow the state to remove them and protect them from dangerous situations.

Details of the arrests came out today in the Providence Journal.  Previously I was incorrect when I said there were no translators.  That was what I had heard “through the grapevine”, but the Journal reports:

Federal immigration officials and advocates from Day One, a sexual assault and trauma resource center in Providence, also interviewed the women who were working at the spas to determine if they are victims of sex-trafficking, Correia said. The law allows victims of sex trafficking to be granted immunity from prosecution.

“We weren’t able to get any information to lead us to think they were being held against their will,” Correia said.

As for the OMG moment of today, I decided to see what the men were saying about what was going on in the spas.  I went back to a website where they rate the women.  Think of this website is the 21 century version of a men’s bathroom wall.  You can’t believe half of what is said on this website,  it is not for those who value women as more than sexual objects.  On www.usasexguide.info if you check the forums in Rhode Island you will see a very interesting conversation going on started by one user named “Donna Hughes”.  Now, I don’t believe this is the real Donna Hughes, but some of the people in the site did believe that it was and what followed was crazy.  What is very ironic is the fact that the real Donna Hughes uses this board for her primary if not only source for research on the AMPS in Rhode Island.  I guess this should teach both sides one very valuable lesson…always check your sources!

Dirty Money

Two stories were published this past weekend in the Providence Journal.  The first, RI sex lobby weeks larger voice at the General Assembly, went into how there is big money in the sex industry, and some of that money ends up in the hands of RI’s politicians.  I don’t know how this is any different from the story a few months ago on the Asian massage parlors “donating” to the State and local police.

I guess the politicians and the police are not much different, taking money with one hand and shaking a condemning finger with the other.

The second story was “New prostitution law buttons up the Strip Clubs” The main point of this story was how tax revenue was down and the clubs were changing the way they do business.

Revenues at adult entertainment clubs already had been declining along with the economy. Sales tax revenues fell to $11.1 million last year, from $12.1 million in 2004, according to the state tax office. Even The Foxy Lady, the state’s oldest and best known strip club, has seen its business decline to about $4 million a year, down from as high as $5 million during the late 1990s, said the club’s manager, Richard Angell.

Club managers aren’t the only ones feeling anxious. Since indoor prostitution was outlawed, customer traffic — already down 25 percent to 30 percent since the economy tanked — has slipped further. Business fell another 7 percent after the new law took effect, said H. Charles Tapalian, the property owner for two strip clubs — Cheaters and Club Balloons — on Allens Avenue.

These stories come just a few days after the police release info on the first stings. The front page of the PROJO on Sunday,  just a few inches away from a the Strip Club story, was a story on how charities are struggling with finances, and today the Governor cut $100 MILLION from cities and towns budgets.  I guess we don’t really care about the poor or the budgets of the cities and towns, we spend money on police overtime, placing ads in the Phoenix and craigslist, and even more money on hotel rooms so we can set up a sting to catch Pat Patriot!  Way to go RI! Now those are some interesting priorities!

14 Arrests with RI’s new prostitution law


The State Police have made their first arrests with the new prostitution law in RI.  14 men and women have been arrested.  From Projo:

The state police say they have arrested six women and eight men under the state’s new prostitution law, which bans indoor solicitation.

The arrests come from several undercover operations in the last two months. In some cases, detectives posed as customers who agreed to meet women in hotels in Providence and Warwick to engage in sex for money.

In at least two other undercover operations, a state police detective posed as a prostitute and attracted eight men to “hotels in the Johnston area.”

During the investigations, the detectives answered or placed advertisements on the adult section of Craigs List or in various newspapers to set up their rendezvous.

It will be interesting to see what will come of these cases.  I think it is a first for RI to actually arrest Johns.  When the State House was taking testimony it was discovered that there was over 300 women arrested, and not one John or Pimp was in prison.  One thing that I wonder about, but I know will probably  not going to have a bearing on these arrests is the section of the law about the landlords.  The law stated that is would punish landlords, they could face up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 fines.  I suppose that a hotel would be considered a landlord.  Besides the landlord point, I think that most of this would be considered entrapment, but most of the people will probably plea out before it goes that far.

I have to agree with most of the posters on the Projo story that this is a waste of money.  Providence’s violent crime rate has gone up 19.5% in 2008, and the 2 murders in a drive by shooting last weekend put the murder rate at almost twice what is was last year.  I would really like to see the police go after real criminals, but they probably have to show that they are doing something with the new law.  The police are holding a press conference later today, so you can see that these arrests are driven by the media.  I never knew of police holding press conferences when they arrest someone for a misdemeanor crime.

Hopefully this will be the last arrests for a while.

The Other side of the camera…

The Other Side of the CameraI hate being on the other side of the camera.  It is mostly based on vanity.  I hate seeing myself.  (But I must admit, I love hearing myself! God bless Talk Radio!)  I love being the one making the films, but I hate to be the one in it.  With that said, I put my vanity aside and agreed to be part of 2 new documentaries on the subject of RI’s prostitution law.

Two groups of law students are currently making documentaries on the subject I covered in “Happy Endings?”.  I was interviewed by one of the groups (Suffolk Law Students) yesterday, and I will be interviewed by another group of students today.

Also interviewed yesterday was Mimi Budnick of D.A.R.E. (who also appears in Happy Endings?) and Marc from Citizens Against Criminalization and Matthew from Providence Daily Dose (both of whom I met after finishing the film)

The students were interviewing all the people involved in the recent legislative battle.  During the interview they said they could only find people who were for the law.  They wanted to hear why we were against it.  One thing I realized while being interviewed: Does my opinion even matter?

I don’t think it should matter what I think, just like it really shouldn’t matter what Donna Hughes or Citizens against Prostitution Trafficking think.  I am not a sex worker, as far as I know Donna Hughes is or was not a prostitute, so why does it matter what outsiders think of the industry? (I am talking about prostitution not human trafficking, it is unfortunate I have to keep reenforcing that point)

Why is it when the government debates healthcare the loudest voices are from the insurance company and health care industry.  Yet when the debate on prostitution, we don’t hear the voices of those in the industry?   If they are brave enough to speak, they are often attacked by those who claim to want the law because it “helps women”.

To me, it all goes back to privacy issues.  Why should anyone (including government) have a point of view on what two consenting adults do behind closed doors?   When you strip away all the propaganda, that is what this law is all about.  Actually if you look even closer you see that essentially all the time and energy spent on this is moronic when this is a response on 40 or so Korean women who were giving massages and hand jobs, very few of these places are “full service”. (The new law even has specific language for hand jobs)

I do think it is interesting that so many homosexuals were fighting for this law.  Actually, with the exception of Providence’s openly gay mayor, the majority of this anti-prostitution push comes from lesbians.  Yes, I am a lesbian too, one of the few who fought against it.  Why does it really matter to all these homos?  I would think they would be more focused on legislative efforts for gay marriage in Rhode Island instead of working on a law against commercial heterosexual sex, especially when the law will have disproportionate effect on women.  Where is the sisterhood?

And then there were…

GoodbyeActually I don’t know how many there were to begin with, but I know that many of them are leaving at a record pace.  I know they are not all going to Nevada, so I think they are most likely either getting out of the business or going to hawk their wears in other states where it is also illegal (but no media an police pressure on the women).

The Providence Journal reported

Word that Rhode Island’s governor signed legislation Tuesday afternoon to outlaw indoor prostitution traveled quickly through the state’s community of sex workers, leaving many of the women who work at Asian “spas” on edge and their employers angry and without customers.

Neon signs outside some spas went dark; employees at others said they were open, but many of the women, fearing a police crackdown, had refused to come to work.

I guess this is the first impact of the law, the human impact.  I am going to pick up the Phoenix tomorrow and see if any of them stopped advertising, the first indicator of the economic impact.

Governor Signs law making prostitution illegal in Rhode Island

Governor Donald Carcieri @ Press Conference about to sign prostitution lawToday in the State Room of the Rhode Island State House, a press conference was held before Governor Donald Carcieri signed a bill that closed the nearly 30 year old loophole.  Governor Carcieri, Joanne Giannini, Senator Paul Jabour, Attorney General Patrick Lynch, and RI State Police Col. Brendan Doherty all spoke about how this law will help new law will “end a blemish” on the image that Rhode Island had over the last 29+ years.

After sitting and watching this press conference, I thought to myself, all this fan fair and the governor is just signing one bill.  The governor did not use this photo op to sign the human trafficking bill, and isn’t that what all the citizens of RI were worried about??

It is not difficult to realize that the real target, of the media, politicians, and police will be prostitution.  When the target is prostitution, the target will be the prostitute or sex worker.  The police say they will wait until they get complaints before raiding.

A few years while I was making “Happy Endings?” the police did raid the spas, and arrest the women for “massage with out a license”.

01:00 AM EST on Friday, November 4, 2005

BY ELIZABETH GUDRAIS
Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — The detective arrived, complaining of pain in his lower back and asking for a massage. He got one — but he also got an offer of sex for $200, the police said.

Detectives arrested two women yesterday at separate businesses  for permitting massages to be given without a license.

The arrested women for giving “permitting massages to be given without a license”.  Does anyone believe they received a complaint about “illegal massages” before the raids??  This was in 2005 when prostitution was legal.  If they were arresting women when they didn’t have a law, how can anyone actually believe that having a law will help these women?

But the police say they will wait until they get complaints.  I am sure some of these “complaints” will come from Donna Hughes.  Although Hughes does not live near any spas, she has registered complaints sent “information” closing another business that didn’t even do massages or employ Asians. At this point I don’t know who Hughes hates more, men or women or just heterosexuals in general.  (Living life with that much hatred can only be described as sad)

The People who Changed the "Loophole"

State Col. Brendan Doherty, Donna Hughes, Rep. JoAnne Gianinni, First Lady Carcieri, Governor Donald Carcieri

What is sad is what I saw in some spas this morning before the press conference.  Most spas have only one women left working besides the Imo who does the cooking and cleaning.  There has been a mass exodus, women are scared.  They are petrified of raids.  They are afraid a cop will be setting them up, and make an example out of them.  I saw one woman crying as I left to go and watch the signing.

Before today, I have never seen any woman in any spa that I thought was a victim of anything.  Today, they all looked liked victims.