Banning Brothels has Opponents?

Despite the fact that prostitution can occur behind closed doors in Rhode Island, prostitution actually is illegal in the state. AG Lynch and many others have long sought to close that loophole. But, somehow, for some reason, they continue to meet with opposition. Rep. Joanne M. Giannini, D-Cranston 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. In addition to offering new legislation dealing with prostitution, solicitation and the closed door loophole, she’s offered two bills concerned with human sex trafficking involuntary servitude and a separate one dealing with sex trafficking of a minor. Yet, those testifying against the bill meant to close the loophole were either unaware or chose to ignore the portions of Rep. Giannini’s comprehensive package.

The majority of the witnesses blasted the bill.
Opponents included Nancy Green, a concerned Providence resident.
“I feel like it is very easy to arrest [prostitutes] and toss them in jail,” she said to the small group of legislators gathered around a long table inside a cramped committee room. “I want to see us go after people at the top.”
Green’s concerns were echoed by a young social worker, a policy analyst, and the head of the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union. They all said that the bill would unfairly target the prostitutes, who opponents say are often forced into prostitution.
…Giannini was visibly upset when she addressed the committee after her bill was repeatedly criticized.
“My intent was never to punish the women with this bill,” she said. “I’ve added the pimps and the people who own the buildings … and the Johns. When was the last time you saw a John in the paper?”
Shaking her head incredulously after her testimony, Giannini dismissed the opponents as those who would rather see prostitution legalized.
“They’ve had two years to come up with a solution,” she said of her peers in the Assembly. “The solution they’ve come up with is ‘Do nothing.’ ”

The same can be said for her co-legislators in the past.

In an interview earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Paiva Weed said she hasn’t seen Giannini’s latest proposal, but that she has serious concerns about past efforts to close the prostitution loophole.
“The concern I’ve always had has been that by focusing on the women on this issue, we are only focusing on half the problem,” she said. “I’d rather see better enforcement of the laws that are on the books.”

Apparently, Sen. Paiva-Weed was unaware that Giannini has dealt with those concerns already, but that’s still no excuse for not taking action on this in the past. Talk about making the perfect the enemy of the good. Finally, it also appears as if time is running out on all of the bills as the deadline is April 12, according to the ProJo report (Steve Peoples). Majority Leader Fox is a co-sponsor on some of the legislation, but when asked if it was a priority, he could only offer that platitude that, “It’s a priority like any other bill.”
Gee, it sure hasn’t been in the past.

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17 years ago

We also need to stop punishing the young males who rob convenience stores after having been forced into that life because they have no other means of supporting themselves.
Get real.
This is a prime example of a very small minority holding a view that virtually one else in the community holds. But they have an effect because nobody else testifies. It’s another shining example of the apathy in the state and the desire of politicians to avoid controversial issues.

17 years ago

There’s a good letter to the editor in today’s Projo that relates to the first part of your comment.
You see, people who rob stores aren’t really committing crimes. They’re just making undocumented purchases.

17 years ago

This situation is somewhat analogous to that of employers of illegal immigrants. It’s easy to go after the streetwalkers (and immigrants) because it will make you a hero to the DePetros, Yorkes and Glovers of the world.
But if you’re interested in really solving the problem, you’ll put just as much effort into going after the people who make the big bucks off the illegal labor (it’s not like the streetwalkers and immigrants are profiting from their crimes, really).

Marc Comtois
17 years ago

Rhody, I agree in part, but still think something is better than nothing. However, at this point, your concerns aren’t even an issue given that Giannini has offered a pretty comprehensive package of legislation that deals with the issues you bring up.

17 years ago

But, if we ban indoor prostitution, our General Assembly members will have to go elsewhere to cheat on their wives…

17 years ago

I completely agree. Companies that employ illegals and take advantage of them should be punished. Johns and those that run the prostitution rings should be punished. Those that run the rings should be punished more harshly than the prostitutes themselves.
But I have to agree with Marc. Giannini’s package is quality proposal that doesn’t try to unduly hammer the hookers.
And Will, c’mon you really don’t think General Assembly members are affected by this law, do you?
Prostitution would require them to spend money out of their own pockets. That’s why they hire interns and researchers using taxpayers money. Just ask John Harwood and Wendy Collins how it’s done….

17 years ago

Prostitution should be legal but not in the neighborhoods. A strict “combat zone” should be set up on Allens Ave.

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