NY advocates want condoms out of prostitute cases

Apr 17, 2012, 9:26 PM

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – Advocates for sex workers want New York to become the first state to ban police officers from confiscating condoms as evidence in prostitution cases, saying it has a chilling effect on disease protection.

To bolster their case, a group issued a report Tuesday showing that fear of police harassment and arrest has prompted some prostitutes to carry fewer or no condoms and have sex without them, despite massive government giveaways.

“We did find, which is a good thing, that sex workers generally carry condoms and use condoms,” said Sienna Baskin, an attorney with the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in Manhattan

But prostitutes also say police also confiscate condoms as a kind of harassment, she said. In surveys, several sex workers said city police took their condoms without arresting them.

Calls to the New York Police Department and Manhattan district attorney’s office were not immediately returned Tuesday.

State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, a Brooklyn Democrat and sponsor of the bill to ban condom evidence, said she has been told the bill get on the calendar for committee consideration in the Republican-controlled Senate. She said a similar measure has previously passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly.

“We are not endorsing prostitution,” Montgomery said. “It is simply related to the fact that over 100,000 people right now are infected with HIV and AIDS in New York City.”

Alexandra Waldhorn, spokeswoman for the city health department, said Tuesday that the city opposes the pending legislation.

Kate Hogan, a prosecutor who is the former president of the state district attorneys’ association, said the real goal of prostitution cases is “to get the pimps and the sex traffickers.” Giving up supporting evidence would be giving them “a lot of leeway we don’t want to give them,” she said.

In a bid to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, New York City health officials began giving out free condoms in 1971 and say they have given out 192 million since 2007. In a similar program, the state health department said it distributes more than 10 million annually.

The 2010 and 2011 surveys of sex workers were conducted by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and by the PROS Network, a coalition of workers and advocates.

The network survey included 35 people who said they worked in the sex trade, with 15 saying police had taken or destroyed their condoms and only five of those saying they were arrested. Six said they had sex later that day or night, and half used a condom.

Of 63 people in the city survey, 36 said their condoms were taken and 26 said they were arrested.

In 2009 in New York City, there were 1,802 arrests for prostitution, a misdemeanor, and 927 arrests for loitering for the purposes of engaging in prostitution, a lesser charge, according to the report.

Human Rights Watch researchers Kathleen Todrys and Megan McLemore said preliminary results from their study of sex workers in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., raise similar concerns about groups with high rates of HIV infection _ 10 to 14 percent _ and high risk for transmission.

McLemore said San Francisco police began photographing condoms for evidence instead of confiscating them after city supervisors in 1996 passed a resolution directing police not to take condoms as evidence, part of that city’s effort to address the AIDS crisis. That still keeps pressure on businesses such as strip clubs and massage parlors to not take free condoms from outreach workers because they still can be used in prosecutions, she said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Associated Press

Masked shooters kill 4 people and injure 3 at an outdoor party in California, police say

KING CITY, Calif. (AP) — A group of men in masks opened fire at an outdoor party in central California, killing four people and injuring three others Sunday evening, police said. Police responded to a reported shooting around 6 p.m. in King City and found three men with gunshot wounds who were pronounced dead in […]

3 hours ago

FILE - This artist depiction shows Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira, right, appea...

Associated Press

Pentagon leak suspect Jack Teixeira is expected to plead guilty in federal court

BOSTON (AP) — Jack Teixeira, the Massachusetts Air National Guard member accused of leaking highly classified military documents about Russia’s war in Ukraine and other national security secrets, is expected to plead guilty on Monday in federal court. The 22-year-old is due to appear in Boston’s federal courthouse for a change of plea hearing nearly […]

7 hours ago

LaFonda D, Sutton-Burke, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Operations poses for ...

Associated Press

How Chinese retailers can offer Americans steep bargains on clothes and why that could change

WASHINGTON (AP) — As a substitute teacher in her mid-20s, Lindsey Puls was delighted to discover the fashion world of Shein more than 10 years ago, lured in by its super-low prices — with tops selling for a few dollars, dresses under $10, and free shipping on orders over $29. Puls, who has a blog […]

8 hours ago

Omar Abu Kuwaik poses for a photo at the Global Medical Relief Fund residence, Wednesday, Jan. 17, ...

Associated Press

A 4-year-old Gaza boy lost his arm – and his family. Half a world away, he’s getting a second chance

NEW YORK (AP) — Omar Abu Kuwaik is far from his home in Gaza. The 4-year-old’s parents and sister were killed by an Israeli airstrike, when he lost part of his arm. He’s one of the lucky ones. Through the efforts of family and strangers, Omar was brought out of Gaza and to the United […]

8 hours ago

Chassity Coston, left, and Charity Wallace pose outside Harvard Yard at Harvard University, Saturda...

Associated Press

Black women struggle to find their way in a job world where diversity is under attack

BOSTON (AP) — Regina Lawless hit a professional high at 40, becoming the first director of diversity and inclusion for Instagram. But after her husband died suddenly in 2021, she pondered whether she had neglected her personal life and what it means for Black woman to succeed in the corporate world. While she felt supported […]

8 hours ago

Capitol One Arena is shown before an NHL hockey game between the Washington Capitals and the New Je...

Associated Press

Two fragile DC neighborhoods hang in the balance as the Wizards and Capitals consider leaving town

WASHINGTON (AP) — Already struggling to keep his Chinatown bar afloat, Yousef Tellawi felt a sense of impending doom when he learned that the owner of Washington’s Capitals and Wizards wanted to move the teams out of the neighborhood and into northern Virginia. The departure of the teams from their home at Capital One Arena, […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

NY advocates want condoms out of prostitute cases