By Nick Horton:
The second series of arrests for indoor prostitution occurred Thursday night, Projo article here, resulting in three arrests of adult women and no human trafficking charges. From the reports I heard, there were no translators present, and as you can see in the article, all of the women arrested were adults. No men were arrested.
There was a tremendous amount of concern over human trafficking last year in Rhode Island, from a lot of people concerned about human rights and women’s right. There has been considerably less attention paid to the issue now that proponents of criminalized prostitution in Rhode Island passed legislation last session. However, the effects of the legislation are still very real. I have previously discussed how proponents of the legislation stated many times that the women arrested are the women the legislation was intented to help, so it will be interesting to see if these arrests actually do in any way help the women that are now facing criminal charges.
Until the details of the arrests come out, it will be impossible to say for certain whether there is any evidence of human trafficking in the spas where the arrests occurred. All three of the women were released by the judge on bail, meaning that the state did not hold any of them for interrogation as part of a human trafficking investigation or place them in protective custody as potential victims of trafficking. Proponents of the legislation previously argued that arresting women for indoor sex work would allow the state to remove them and protect them from dangerous situations. No allegations or investigations regarding human trafficking ever surfaced in conjuction with the first sting, last December, which resulted in 14 arrests. However, I hope that the interest in this issue by the media and legislators does not die now that the battle over legislation has faded.