Donna Hughes and Criminalizing Prostitution

Posted on behalf of B.

In her May 2, 2009 email, Professor Donna Hughes claims that criminalizing prostitution in Rhode Island will some how help victims of sex trafficking in the state. Despite what she says, Professor Hughes’ position amounts to a claim that the best way to help the victims of the crime of slavery is to spend large amounts of public money to arrest the very small number of victims of this serious crime and the much larger number of women who are not victims of any crime. This proposition makes no sense, violates any sense of justice and fairness and won’t work.

Arresting the victims of a serious crime so we can, in theory, get at the real criminals is just not an answer to anything. By making the victims criminals themselves, we would only strengthen the hold that the slavers have on them by increasing the victims’ fear of identifying themselves as victims to the police or anyone else. It will make the victims less talkative, not more talkative, since they will fear criminal punishment and deportation.

If Professor Hughes’ theory were correct, Rhode Island would be the sex trafficking capital of the US, and there would be no sex trafficking anywhere else in the country, except the two counties in Nevada where prostitution is legal. Obviously, this is not the case. Continue reading