Florida passes bill to create public database of pimps and johns convicted of soliciting prostitution
The state legislature in Florida has passed a bill that will create a public database of pimps and johns who are convicted of soliciting or procuring for prostitution. Governor Ron DeSantis (R) will decide whether to sign the bill and create the "Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database", which passed both houses of the legislature on May 3. The bill seeks to create a public registry including the names, addresses, and photos of anyone who has been convicted of "soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation and who provides or arranges payment for such violations".
The News Service of Florida reported that the bill comes as part of a package of measures to crack down on prostitution and human trafficking ahead of the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami, as well as WrestleMania 36, which will be held in Tampa next year.
Offenders will be removed from the database every five years as long as they do not have any more convictions. Officials in Florida hope that the registry will be able to shame johns and discourage them from seeking out prostitutes, hence, reducing the demand for prostitution as well as the prevalence of sex trafficking.
Advocates for sex workers, however, have spoken out strongly against the bill and say that the loose way to describe the proposed law makes it inevitable for prostitutes themselves to be listed in the database. They have also said that a prostitute who is convicted of providing an apartment or car for another sex worker could easily be included in the registry.
Alex Andrews, co-founder for Sex Worker Outreach Program Behind Bars, said in a statement: "A prostitution registry is yet another legislative knee jerk reaction to a community-based problem that will cause far more harm to marginalized members of our community. Surely we have evolved from a culture that punishes a human being with a Scarlet letter that they can't escape."
Advocates have said that the bill, which has been titled as "Human Trafficking", intentionally confuses sex trafficking of unwilling victims with consensual paid sex acts between adults. The new bill also includes several other measures in order to crack down on prostitution.
It requires strip club owners and operators to keep records of their employees' driver licenses or other documents with photo IDs and age verification. They could face misdemeanor charges if found otherwise. The bill is yet to be formally sent to Governor DeSantis.
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