Associated Press (04.17.12) - Thursday, April 19, 2012
A Manhattan-based group that advocates for sex workers wants
New York to be the first state to ban police officers from
confiscating condoms as evidence in prostitution cases. The
Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center said Tuesday
that fear of police harassment and arrest has led some
prostitutes to carry fewer or no condoms and have unprotected
State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) has sponsored a
bill to ban condoms as evidence. "We are not endorsing
prostitution," she 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."
Although New York City health officials have given out 192
million free condoms since 2007, health department
spokesperson Alexandra Waldhorn said the city opposes the
Kate Hogan, a prosecutor, said giving up supporting evidence
would be giving pimps and sex traffickers "a lot of leeway we
don't want to give them."
Surveys of sex workers were done in 2010 and 2011 by the city
and the PROS Network, a coalition of workers and advocates.
The network survey included 35 sex trade workers; of those, 15
said police had taken or destroyed their condoms with only
five arrests. Six said they had sex later, and only half of
them used a condom. Of 63 people in the city survey, 36 said
their condoms were taken and 26 said they were arrested.
Human Rights Watch researchers Kathleen Todrys and Megan
McLemore said preliminary results from their study of sex
workers in New York City and other cities raise similar
concerns. McLemore said that after San Francisco supervisors
directed police to stop confiscating condoms in 1996, officers
instead began photographing the condoms to use as evidence.