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Stings and Johns Registries.

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It has recently been brought to our attention that there has been an 8-state, 10-day “sting” of prostitutes and solicitors widely publicized in the news. 20 agencies were involved, located in Chicagoland, Indianapolis, Boston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Newport News, Cincinnati, and Dayton. It was reported that 565 arrests were made, and of those 314 were allegedly soliciting sex. 227 were counted as arrests for prostitution and 2 are going to be charged with human trafficking. 

There are some major incongruities in this story. First of all, if you do the math: 227 (arrested for prostitution) divided among 20 agencies is roughly 12 per agency. Divide this 12 per agency over the 10 days of the sting, and you’ll get roughly 1 person arrested for alleged prostitution, per day, per agency. Generally speaking, if 2 parties were arrested at once, engaged in a sexual act, this amounts to less than 1 couple per day.  Now the Johns math: 314 men arrested divided across 20 agencies yields around 16 men arrested per agency. Over this 10 day blitz, this is an average of 1 or 2 per day. Since this math has been done, all we have left is to wonder how this is newsworthy, considering those are average numbers, pooled to make a large number. Not to mention the fact that 314 + 227 + 2 does not equal 565. Those numbers add up to 545. Who are the others who aren’t accounted for, in this report?

What we’re not seeing, in the news: a percentage of the “Johns” arrested are actually MtF transpeople that had not changed genders on their official documents, who were arrested for simply associating with “known prostitutes,” or standing on certain blocks with women who looked “suspect” – and were not actually attempting to solicit service from them, at all. Guilt by association, neatly shoveled into a category to look good for the news. 

As if this were not bad enough, in Chicago there is a Prostitution Patron Arrest List which publicizes arrests made in the past 30 days that will be charged with solicitation. These men being treated as guilty, before even walking into a court of law. This is damaging for all parties involved – except the police, who want to be perceived as “cleaning up the streets,” whilst simply using illegal practices to slander men who haven’t been given the right to defend themselves. This is all without noting that soliciting a prostitute is a victimless crime (which is not a crime, at all, rather something that causes a reaction of revulsion or could serve as a “gateway” to something more damaging), it’s consensual, and the only time it isn’t – should culminate in a kidnapping and sexual assault charge.

Furthermore, Tom Dart was quoted on record as saying “customers of prostitutes ‘perpetuate a violent, exploitative industry,’ and if there were no johns, there would be no abusive pimps and traffickers either.” If he were really interested in keeping the prostitutes safe, he wouldn’t have arrested these victims of a “violent, exploitative industry.” You’re either going to acknowledge that they’re victims or you’re going to charge them as criminals: pick a side. 

In conclusion, not only are these scarlet letter witch hunts a waste of time, money, resources, and effort – there are far more harmful things to clear up than people engaging in, and paying for the services of, the oldest occupation in the world. All the untested rape kits, actual sexual assaults that happened during this frenzy, forced sex trafficking of children, and corruption or nepotism when involving who does/doesn’t get arrested, are the real situations that need to be cleared up. One is forced note the fact that these are much more difficult fish to fry than picking men and women off the streets who appear unsavory – especially during an election year.  
If you were involved, or know someone who was, please contact us:

Written by sexworkadvocate

February 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I love the point you made about “pick a side” — I myself am not a victim, but I am an independent business woman. If what worries people is human-trafficking and shutting down a ‘violent, exploitative industry’ arresting the talent doesn’t do anything helpful. Fear of arrest makes some service providers MORE dependent on managers/pimps, and, I have to assume, makes the managers/pimps MORE violent and crabby to work for!

    Can we have an adult conversation about WHY prostitution is illegal at all???

    (ps — enjoy the blog world – glad to see you in in!)

    I am not bad, but I am


    February 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm

  2. […] suspected prostitutes are even being arrested, if they’re simultaneously being heralded as victims of trafficking by authority figures such as Tom Dart? Lastly, it must be examined why the […]

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