DC Tackles Prostitution

The DC City Council recently passed a new law that will create a task force with the sole job of arresting prostitutes, “johns,” and pimps. The new law, which is valid for only ninety days, will allow the police to arrest anyone in public who “repeatedly” tries to engage passersby in conversation or stops traffic in an attempt to engage in prostitution. Before this bill was passed, prostitutes could only be arrested on proof that a monetary transaction has been negotiated or has taken place.

The police have held their program up as one which targets pimps and “johns as well as prostitutes.” The task force has put together plans to discourage “johns” by embarrassing them into staying away from prostitutes. The law itself however simply makes it easier to arrest prostitutes and has no clauses to help prosecute “johns” or pimps. Absent from the new policy are means to rehabilitate or help prostitutes find skils or jobs. Showing little understanding of the socio-economic context of prostitution an a patronizing attitude toward women, Executive Assistant Chief of Police Terrance Gainer commented on the problem of prostitution in the District saying, ” Women are walking the streets dressed in a fashion that is only suitable for walking from the bathroom to their bedroom in their own home…and when you pull up to confront them they are awfully bold and brazen.”


The Washington Post - July 12, 1998

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