Florida Approves Wrong-Headed Public Database to Publish Details of Sex Buyers

The public database shows that the war on consensual sex work continues

Florida‘s legislature passed ill-conceived legislation last week, Senate Bill 540 and House Bill 851, to establish a public database that tracks individuals who have pleaded guilty to or been convicted of the loosely defined crimes of “soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring” another to commit “prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.”

While the legislation’s authors say they consider it to be a step toward ending human trafficking, rational human beings see it a means to publicly shame clients and others associated with people who do consensual sex work, and note that it will inevitably hurt sex workers.

“It doesn’t matter if this claims to target pimps and johns. We know sex workers will end up on that list,” said Alex Andrews, co-founder of SWOP Behind Bars, an organization that provides support for incarcerated sex workers.

The wrong-hided legislation relies on the work of a controversial (and disgusting) feminist anti-pornography and anti-sex work psychologist Melissa Farley of San Francisco, who has referred to female sex workers as “house n****rs” and ”receptacles” and equates consensual sex with a sex worker with rape.

Lawmakers and other psychologists have described Farley’s work as “questionable,” “unqualified,” “inflammatory” and “demeaning propaganda.” In 2010, Farley appeared as a key witness in a prostitution hearing in Ontario. The judge, Justice Susan Himel, dismissed Farley’s testimony as  “problematic.” Himel said.,“Her advocacy appears to have permeated her opinions … Dr. Farley’s choice of language is at times inflammatory and detracts from her conclusions.”

Nonetheless, here we are with Farley-approved legislation in Florida.

The Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database will include anyone convicted of or pleading guilty to “soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation,” according to the Senate version of the bill, drafted by Democratic Senator Lauren Book.

Sen. Lauren Book (D)

Accessible to anyone with an internet connection, the online Database would include a person’s legal name, last known address, color photograph and offense. After five years, a person recorded in the Database may be removed if they have not committed a “sexual offense, including, but not limited to, human trafficking, or an offense that would require registration as a sexual offender,” according to the latest version of the bill.

“This bill says to traffickers and pimps: the State of Florida is CLOSED for business,” said Sen. Book in a press release. “When we curb the demand for the illegal sale and purchase of sex, we will also curb the profitability of human trafficking.”

But a March 2019 analysis conducted by the Florida Senate Committee on Community Affairs staff affirmed sex worker advocates’ fears: The Database “will collect and centralize information relating to those convicted of soliciting prostitution, regardless of whether the person subject to the solicitation is a victim of human trafficking or not.”

“What keeps me up at night is the amount of identifying information made publicly available on these registries.”

Activists from Decriminalize Sex Work and Sex Workers Organizing Project (SWOP) believe that the registration will ensnare consensual sex workers and their clients. For SWOP Behind Bars organizer Alex Andrews, the legislation is “mostly an anti-sex-work bill and [has] nothing to do with trafficking.”

“What is most likely is that sex workers who work together for safety will be charged with promoting or trafficking, be put on the registry and then labeled a predator,” Kaytlin Bailey of Decriminalize Sex Work told Filter. “What keeps me up at night is the amount of identifying information made publicly available on these registries.”

Additionally, the “end demand” model in which the legislation is rooted has been shown to intensify the socio-economic precarious of sex workers’ lives. A study from the University of British Columbia that interviewed 854 sex workers found that their access to health services declined following the implementation of Canada’s “end demand” laws. In France, Hélène Le Bail, a researcher at Sciences Po CERI in Paris, found that such laws resulted in an “acute increase in socioeconomic vulnerability.”

“The desperate street-based sex workers don’t suddenly get great jobs with company cars and health benefits just because the demand for their services dried up suddenly,” wrote Andrews. “They become MORE desperate and are willing to engage in riskier behavior.”

Savannah Parvu, an anti-sex-trafficking advocate and survivor who advised Rep. Fitzenhagen on the bill, emphasizes that the bill is focused on sex trafficking, but notes that that sex workers are perhaps acceptable collateral.

“Human trafficking victims are just that… VICTIMS. ‘Sex workers’ claim they’re doing it willingly, so if a bill that is designed to help human trafficking victims puts sex workers in danger or is bad for ‘business’ then maybe it’s time for a career change,” wrote Parvu in a March 27 blog post. “That may sound cruel, but Victims don’t have a choice… ‘sex workers’ do.”

As writer Natasha Lennard noted at The Intercept:

Even if the proposed Florida registry managed — despite the precedent and the vague language of the bill — to somehow isolate only pimps and johns, sex workers themselves would nonetheless be made more vulnerable to violence and exploitation. Advocates to “end demand” for the sex trade have successfully pushed bills in a handful of locales with the same results: Sex workers are put at risk and trafficking continues.

Filter / Huffington Post / The Intercept

470010cookie-checkFlorida Approves Wrong-Headed Public Database to Publish Details of Sex Buyers

Florida Approves Wrong-Headed Public Database to Publish Details of Sex Buyers

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One Response

  1. Guess if your a man thats ugly, old, socially awkward, small penis, or anything else thats considered unattractive then you are not allowed to have sex no matter what. If you fucking even try then you will be publicly shamed so your life can be ruined even more than it already is.

    This bill is a war against men. The question is, why are men allowing it to happen..

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