Streams

It's Now Less Dangerous to Carry a Condom in Your Pocket

Monday, May 12, 2014

WNYC
new york city free condoms (ianqui/flickr)

The NYPD will no longer confiscate condoms as evidence from suspected sex workers. The changes attempt to bridge the gap between the city’s health and public safety mission.

“A policy that inhibits people from safe sex is a mistake and dangerous," said Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference on Monday.

Advocates are applauding the shift in the city’s policy, but many say it doesn’t go far enough — since officers may continue to seize prophylactics to build evidence in larger sex trafficking or promotion of prostitution cases.

"We trust that police officers and prosecutors can make their cases of serious offenses on something more than the flimsy evidence of a condom in your pocket," said Andrea Ritchie, coordinator with the group Streetwise and Safe.

Critics have long complained that police officers harassed suspected sex workers for carrying condoms and that having a condom could lead to an arrest. Sienna Baskin, co-director of the Sex Workers Project, said the stated changes have too many loopholes. “This continues to send evidence that it is unsafe to carry condoms,” she said.

Baskin said she hoped the NYPD moves to comprehensively ban the use of condoms as evidence in all prostitution related cases.

New York City currently spends about one million dollars a year distributing free condoms.

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Comments [2]

Marie Coughlan from Sydney

Yes, high time. Is it any wonder that the US has got such a high HIV prevalence among vulnerable populations like sex workers and drug users when you've got such ridiculous regulations? And how 19th century to continue to prosecute sex workers. Also, thank you, Kathleen Horan, for using the term that sex workers prefer to be called, instead of the usual highly morally judgmental P-word. Sex workers can reclaim whatever language they want, but the rest of us should show some respect for people whose work is done in really difficult, often very violent, situations.

May. 13 2014 07:47 AM
John ADRIAN from Staten Island

High time, too. When Ed Koch was mayor he read the names of those arrested for patronizing sex workers on WNYC. I believe it was called THE JOHN HOUR or something similar.

Sweden severely curtailed prostitution about a decade ago when it stopped prosecuting it sex workers entirely and began prosecuting those who patronized the sex workers.

Perhaps it's time for THE JOHN HOUR to be re-instituted in New York City.

May. 13 2014 07:33 AM

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