By Darren Kramer
HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – A new state study paints a picture of “systemic sexism” in how sex workers are viewed and treated in Connecticut. According to The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, both law enforcement and court procedures focus primarily on punishing female sex workers, rather than the men who buy sex.
According to PCSW, “An analysis of records of the last 10 years shows that, in Connecticut, prostitutes are more than twice as likely as buyers of sex to be arrested, and nearly seven times more likely to be convicted. The past decade saw 1,841 prostitution convictions vs. 269 convictions for buying sex from a prostitute. Of the people arrested for the crime, 3,577 were prostitutes and 1,378 were buyers. (While data available to the TIPC did not break down arrests and convictions by gender, it can safely be assumed that most prostitutes are women.)”
To remedy this gender imbalance, the PCSW is making several recommendations to the legislature, including focusing on the “demand” side of the crime of trafficking and prostitution by:
- 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. “We’re recommending much-needed focus on the demand side,” says Gilchrest. “The legislature can do this by considering policies to help widen culpability of those buying sex.”
- Strengthening current state law to ensure that when people purchase sex with a minor, they be charged with a felony crime. According to TIPC member Tammy Sneed, Director of Gender Responsive Adolescent Services and co-chair of the Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team, “Connecticut’s current law allows those caught purchasing sex with a minor to avoid a felony charge if they can successfully argue that they were unsure of the child’s age. Having sex with a child is sexual abuse, plain and simple. The ‘mistake of age’ defense completely contradicts our efforts to protect children from predators.”So, the TIPC is recommending that the State consider 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 “to remove the knowledge requirement and expressly prohibit a mistake of age defense when such other person is under the age of 18.”
- Prohibiting Connecticut hotels and motels from renting rooms hourly;
- 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
- 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.