I happen to live in a county where the Sheriff is known for prostitution stings. I just did a google search and almost every hit was for my county! As a criminal defense attorney, this causes me some distress. (One might think, this brings me business, but I have different opinions on the matter).
In Florida, prostitution is defined as the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire but excludes sexual activity between spouses. It is a misdemeanor for a first or second violation. It becomes a felony of the third degree for a third violation. In addition, a person who specifically solicits, induces, entices, or procures another to commit prostitution is subject to a minimum mandatory 10 days incarceration, vehicle impoundment, and a civil penalty of $5,000.00.
Most of the people charged with prostitution are low-income women. In fact, statistics show that 80% are women. Most are put into the industry at the age of 14. These women are forced into prostitution by pimps. They are nothing but modern-day slaves. Approximately 70% have experienced multiple rapes by their customers and pimps.
Why are these women being arrested for prostitution and treated as criminals?
What we really should be focused on is sex trafficking. To quote Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern, “existing laws [are] inadequate because we [aren’t] going after the true offenders.” These women are victims, and need to be treated as such. They have been coerced into selling themselves. We need to allow them to expunge their records and provide help for them. We need to protect them and their identity so they can testify against their traffickers and pimps.
Until more people care about this issue, and take the time to inform their elected leaders, the laws won’t change.