By Feroze Dhanoa
Sex workers in Connecticut are more than twice as likely as buyers of sex to be arrested, according to an analysis conducted by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW).
The organization reports that the pattern of arrests and convictions for prostitution in nearly every Connecticut municipality may indicate the presence of systemic sexism in how sex workers are viewed and treated. The analysis is based on an annual report released by the Trafficking in Persons Council (TIPC).
Data for the past decade shows 1,841 prostitution convictions versus 269 convictions for buying sex. When it comes to arrests, 3,557 prostitutes were arrested compared to 1,378 buyers of sex over the past ten years, according to the PCSW. While the data is not broken down by gender, the PCSW says it can be safely assumed that most prostitutes are women.
While children under 18 are considered victims of human trafficking rather than criminals, the implication remains that women over 18 choose prostitution rather than fall into it through coercion or a pattern of childhood abuse, the PCSW said.
The TIPC made the following recommendations to remedy the gender imbalance:
- Amending state statute Sec. 54-36p, which concerns forfeiture of money and property, so that patrons of sex are financially penalized, as prostitutes and pimps currently are.
- Removing the “mistake of age” defense that lack of knowledge of a child’s underage status exculpates the buyer of sex by revising Sec. 53a-83
- The TIPC recommends raising the age under the statute regarding prostitution from 16 to 18 to ensure that minors under the age of 18 are treated as victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
- Research done by the TIPC shows that trafficking of minors often takes place in hotels and motels, so they recommend 1) Prohibiting Connecticut hotels and motels from renting rooms hourly 2) Expanding on past public education efforts and victim assistance by requiring truck stops, liquor permittee premises and strip clubs to post information about human trafficking; and 3) Requiring hotels, motels and similar lodgings to maintain records of room renters for a minimum of six months as a way of aiding trafficking investigations.
“People need to realize that many of the same dynamics in the sexual victimization of children – which most people recognize as abhorrent – also play out with adult women,” Jillian Gilchrest PCSW Senior Policy Analyst and Chair of TIPC said in a press release. “Our work aims to identify, address and end this horrible crime.”