Why I will vote against my current state rep

My current state representative, Joanne Giannini, has helped out our neighborhood greatly. She works with a neighborhood group with which I work (and also run their website). However, she has recently gone crazy with the fight against indoor prostitution. She has sponsored a bill to band indoor prostitution in Rhode Island, where it is currently legal only through a loophole. She wants the police to be able to arrest prostitutes and throw them in jail.

I don’t support prostitution. I don’t see a reason why anyone would want to pay for sex. However, I do support the right for people to pay for sex and for people to sell their bodies for sex. I understand that some people are forced into the business, some even brought here from overseas for the sole purpose of being used as prostitutes. I don’t support that. I don’t see a problem with people who are willingly doing this to continue to do so.

What the RI General Assembly should be doing is legitimizing the sex industry. Regulate where brothels are allowed through zoning laws. This will prevent them from opening in residential neighborhoods. Regulate the business with random visits by social workers and health inspectors. This will keep the business clean and allow the employees to come forward to someone other than a cop if they are being forced into prostitution.

Most of the prostitutes in Rhode Island are doing it because they need the money. They are supporting their families. In a state with one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country, it is horrifying to think that the General Assembly is so heartless to force hundreds more people into unemployment. And not only will they be forcing them into unemployment, they will be forcing them into a life of crime. Putting these people in jail will cost our state and communities more than leaving the law as it stands. However, if we regulate and tax the sex industry, we will be putting money in the state’s coffers… money that the state desperately needs.

Shame on your Rep Giannini. Shame on all the members of our General Assembly who are buying the garbage spewed by the likes of Donna Hughes, the URI Women’s Studies professor who has made the sex industry her #1 enemy. I will be voting against Rep Giannini (and possibly Senator Maryellen Goodwin, if she also votes in favor of this) in the next election, not because she has been a horrible representative, but because she is putting her own personal moral beliefs before the needs of the state, including the needs of my community.

6 thoughts on “Why I will vote against my current state rep”

  1. I completely concur, Jim. It’s like legislating whether I can smoke or not. If I want to develop lung cancer it should be my choice to do so. I’m not hurting anyone else or asking them to take care of me. I have health and life insurance and I won’t leave the world in worse financial shape because of my choice.

  2. I’m actually not opposed to smoking bans. It makes going out pretty much anywhere more pleasant, but I fully support your right to smoke outside.

  3. I’m not sure I agree with the government regulating it though. Seems to be doing just fine without the government.

  4. It’s not doing fine without the government, there’s no way to know that they’re clean and disease free. If they’re licensed, there’d be mandatory testing and all that. I know you want to remove all taxes, but then the government can’t do anything.

  5. For a while I assumed Giannini meant well but was maybe misguided by the insane ramblings of Donna Hughes. But how she could push a bill that was rejected both by human trafficking experts AND domestic violence advocates makes no sense. It’s cruel, actually.

  6. Jim, I agree with you, but the jury is permanently out on whether you actually -need- regulation to maximize public safety.

    People who tend to go into this work tend to skirt regulation, for various reasons. Some are concerned with privacy, some don’t understand the law, and others want to avoid uncle sam. Nevada, which has strict regulation, has a huge ‘non legal’ sex work industry.

    The interesting thing to note is that Rhode Island has a surprisingly -low- incidence of STDs (including HIV) given our demographics. It has been shown that decriminalization alone creates a huge jump in condom use and worker safety. That boost continues when workers move indoors, where prostitution requires forethought, accounting, security, phone lines, insurance, and other things that a ‘streetwalker’ would never consider.

    While I’m of the view that a -little bit- of regulation would be a good thing, I don’t think it needs to be strict or expensive. A simple ‘surprise visit’ from a social worker every year to do off-site interviews and remind workers that they should pay taxes and get tested might be just enough to hit the ‘sweet spot’ between public safety and compliance. The interviews would also ensure that women aren’t trafficked, and provide an opportunity to get some really good statistics.

    I feel a bit differently about the ‘houses’ of the business, though. Ideally, they would pay sales tax out of the door fees (which I believe they do now), and then an additional tax to cover the cost of administering the ‘loose’ regulation I described above. Zoning, installation of ‘red phones’ that call police immediately, and availability of barrier-method contraception should be mandatory requirements for any house of prostitution to provide.

    This is what saddens me about Rhode Island’s new law… We had an opportunity to do something different, and something that could be proven better. Instead, we hopped on-board a policy 100 years late, and without collecting any scientific data.

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