Joined by a number of local and national organizations, the sex worker advocacy group COYOTE-RI today blasted Providence city officials for their arrest last week of three sex workers on charges of soliciting for prostitution at the Foxy Lady adult entertainment establishment. In a statement issued today, the groups called for the charges against the women to be dropped and an end to “the ongoing harassment of sex workers.”
COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) Rhode Island is a group of sex workers, former sex workers, trafficking victims and allies that advocates for policies that promote the health and safety of people involved in the sex industry. The group’s statement today calls last week’s police raid “a grotesque misuse of taxpayer dollars to oppress adult women whose only alleged crime is selling services to consenting adults in a private location.” Local groups joining in the statement included RICARES, TGI Network of Rhode Island, and the ACLU of Rhode Island.
The Providence Licensing Board is today considering revoking the Foxy Lady’s license based solely on these arrests, which is a harsher punishment, the establishment’s lawyers have pointed out, than that meted out to nightclubs where shootings have taken place.
COYOTE-RI’s statement, which has also been signed online by hundreds of individuals, adds:
“Criminalization of sex work has done absolutely nothing to curtail ‘the oldest profession.’ Instead, it has led to increased rates of violence and stigma against sex workers, and even adverse health outcomes. A recent study showed that that repressive policing was associated with having three times the odds of experiencing sexual and physical violence from clients or other parties. That is why such diverse and respected groups as the World Health Organization, United Nations AIDS, and Amnesty International all recommend decriminalization of sex work to reduce violence against, and incidence of HIV among, sex workers.”
The statement concludes by saying that “moralistic raids on sex workers trying to provide for themselves will not ‘save’ them, but rather will contribute to long-term harm and their continued marginalization. Arrests like these don’t stop crime, but instead only create more victims. We urge City officials to drop the charges against these women and end the ongoing harassment of sex workers.”