Sex workers had not been included in the Nye County Commission’s initial discussions about the proposed changes to the hours when prostitutes could leave brothels
After sparking outrage among sex workers and civil libertarians, a proposed government mandated “lockdown” policy for sex workers in Nye County, Nevada’s legal brothels – forcing them to remain on the premises round-the-clock with only a six-hour window of freedom for every ten-day period – has quietly been dropped from a proposed brothel ordinance.
A working draft of the controversial proposal was crafted over the last two years and completed last month, said Nye County Commission Chairman John Koenig. It had been expected to be introduced at the Oct. 15 commission meeting.
“What we’re talking about here,” Little said, “is the government locking down and restraining the freedom of adult women working in a legal business to come and go as they please even when not working.”
On September 5, Nye County announced proposed changes to Chapter 9.20: Prostitution which, if accepted by Nye County Commissioners, would have imposed severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of legal sex workers working at the county’s licensed brothels
Barbara Brents, a UNLV sociology professor and expert on the state’s legal brothels, said that codifying restrictions on prostitutes’ movements into county law would have been unprecedented in Nevada. Although some of the 17 brothels still operating in Nevada have lockdown policies defining when prostitutes can leave the premises, the rules are usually written and enforced by brothel owners, not the county.
Historically, the brothels owned the late Dennis Hof led the way in terms of eschewing lockdowns. Hof’s two Nye County brothels were the only non-lockdown brothels in the county. One of those establishments, Love Ranch Vegas, is now closed, and Alien Cathouse is under new ownership.
Nye’s other two brothels, Sheri’s Ranch and The Chicken Ranch, are both lockdown brothels. According to Nye County officials, their owners played a role in drafting the Nye County proposal.
“(The changes) were proposed mainly by the owners and the people who run the brothels. That’s how they wanted it written, so that’s what we did,” Koenig said.
A Nevada courtesan named Kourtney Chase disputes this:
From what I’ve been told, it was former Commissioner Butch Borasky – the same commissioner [that] brothel owner Dennis Hof had a lawsuit against – who initiated this change a year ago before Dennis passed away.
In a story by Amy Alonzo of the Mason Valley News, Alien Cathouse’s new owner Raman Sharma – who said he was not consulted over the drafting of the new ordinance – noted that a “freedom window” for sex workers is ridiculously arbitrary at best: “If you’re (restricting hours) for the safety or well-being of people or clients, even if it’s one hour, it takes only 10 minutes or 10 seconds for someone to get contracted (with an STD).”
“(Lockdown policies) were, to my knowledge from all the years I’ve been looking at ordinances, not part of the ordinances, but more of a managerial rule, or sort of a gentleman’s agreement between the sheriff’s office and managers,” UNLV’s Brents said.
She questioned whether Nye’s proposed amendment would have been legal.
“I can’t imagine any other group of workers who would be limited on when they could leave the workplace by the county. So, this seems on the face of it to be … a step backwards,” she said.
The demise of the 6-Hour Lockdown Rule is the good news, Chuck Muth of the Nevada Brothel Association wrote late Thursday.
The bad news is the Commission has decided to leave in place the existing 24-hour “lockdown” rule that’s almost as bad.
Under Section 9.20.150 of the County Code covering “Health Examinations and Tests,” the current provision reads…
“Every prostitute who is off the brothel premises in excess of twenty-four (24) hours shall be subject to all the medical testing requirements set forth in this chapter and any other applicable State laws and regulations.”
That’s really just the same story, different chapter.
The ONLY reason given for the 24-hour lockdown rule is to protect the public health. But that excuse is absurd on its face.
“Now there’s an opportunity to do the right thing, sort of connect with these commissioners and try to persuade them to repeal the 24-hour rule,” Jeremy Lemur, a public relations representative for sex workers told the Las Vegas Sun. “I’d hope that this movement, if you will, would have momentum in order to do that.”
The amended Nye County ordinance will be introduced at the Oct. 15 county commission meeting. A public hearing on the bill, which could change more in the coming months, is currently set for Dec. 17.
We will update with coverage of the Oct. 15 Commission meeting.