“Sex Crimes In New Orleans, Separate and Unequal”

NEW ORLEANS — In their neighborhoods, they are sometimes taunted with dirty looks and jeers. Their pictures hang on the walls of local community centers where their children and grandchildren play. And their names and addresses are listed in newspapers and mailed out on postcards to everyone in the neighborhood.

Landing a job or even finding a landlord willing to give them a place to stay is a challenge.

These women wear a scarlet letter — rather, 11 letters — spelled out on their driver’s licenses in bright orange text: SEX OFFENDER.

They aren’t child molesters or pedophiles. Most are poor, hard-luck black women in New Orleans who agreed to exchange oral or anal sex for money. In doing so they violated the latest version of Louisiana’s 206-year-old Crime Against Nature law, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and registration as a sex offender.

Opponents of the law say it is discriminatory and targets poor women and the gay and transgendered community who engage in what they call “survival sex.” In March, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of nine anonymous plaintiffs against the state, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and a host of state agencies, calling the law unconstitutional.

READ Trymaine Lee’s article AT HUFFINGTON POST HERE

2 Responses

  1. We need more sympathetic articles like this, but I wish he hadn’t felt compelled to include insulting disinformation: the eighth paragraph begins “Most of the people involved in the sex trade in New Orleans — and elsewhere, for that matter — struggle with drug addiction, mental illness or past sexual trauma.” It’s sad that even those who support our rights can’t resist spreading this kind of garbage.

  2. I think Trymaine Lee did a fantastic job. Deon Haywood gives a killer last word too.

    I am not from New Orleans but I am familiar with many communities of sex work and I find there to be rampant drug addiction, mental illness and trauma.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone in sex work is speaking or acting out from a place of trauma. Often dialogue about addiction, rape or mental illness hijacks the voices of folks who are wanting to be heard as empowered people, not as victims of circumstance. It is so important that folks represent themselves (thanks BNG!) and that we continue to educate the public and media.

    However, while I agree it is important to not create disparaging commentary about communities of sex work, I find the attitude that folks in sex work are not experiencing crisis, poverty or, god forbid–hating doing sex work– to be alienating.

    There are many good folks who are fighting for social justice for people involved in the sex trade and I think we alienate them when we minimize issues that are prevalent in their organizations and overlapping communities. I also feel we are acting irresponsibly towards other sex workers when we put up a front that drugs and violence have no dialogue in the SW rights movement. I realize the deep stigma of these things are harmful, but we are embarrassing ourselves when we act flippant about addiction, coercion and trauma.

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