Prostitution in New York City has become a bold and prominent practice with a dip in legal action taken against those participating in it. Since 2019 there has been a drop in prosecution of prostitutes, there have also been fewer arrests of promoters (pimps) and buyers (johns). Reports suggest that victims of sex trafficking are suffering due to the emboldened pimps.

Vice cops with the New York Police Department (NYPD) told reporters that there was little incentive left for police officers to make prostitution-related arrests. They stated that Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz’s office moved to dismiss hundreds of prostitution cases.

Fox News reported that the repeal of the loitering for prostitution law, commonly known as the “Walking While Trans” law also prevented police from arresting prostitutes. The law was repealed after LGBT rights activists organized against the law that often targeted transgender people.

A report with the New York Post shared how emboldened pimps had become. The promoters and traffickers reportedly stayed present near the streets where their prostitutes walked. The passing of marked and unmarked police vehicles did not make any difference. Even when a police vehicle flashed its lights, business continued as usual.

A former sex-trafficking and special victims prosecutor in Brooklyn, Lauren Hersh, pointed out that the problem was not the lack of prosecution of prostitutes. She pointed out that neither the pimps nor the johns cared if the prostitutes were arrested. A difference can only be made if the buyers and promoters face criminal charges.

Hersh stated that most of the people stuck working as prostitutes are victims of trafficking. As prostitution is a demand-driven industry, Hersh believes, law enforcement must tackle the demand. The arrest of buyers will act as a deterrent for those creating the demand for prostitution.

However, since 2019 there has been a huge drop in the number of arrests for patronizing prostitution in New York City. In the borough arrest for patronizing a prostitute dropped from 279 in 2018 to just 28 in 2020.

NYPD claims that the drop in arrests has been due to a shift in strategy since 2017. The Brooklyn District Attorney stated that it still “aggressively pursues action” against alleged pimps.

NYPD squad car pixabay

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