Two bills in the legislature, HB 44 and HB 240, aim to suppress prostitution. Both bills contain language aimed at increased penalties for johns something anti-prostitute advocates have long proposed.

John laws, where they do in fact reduce the demand for prostitution, (most of them are simply ineffective) have a negative impact on the community, not to mention the johns and the prostitutes. By reducing the income available through the sale of sex many prostitutes are driven to commit other criminal acts to obtain funds they may need for drugs, to satisfy a pimp, or whatever. These other crimes don’t show up in the statistics of pro-john law types, but they do harm the community more than prostitution. The desire for such laws originates in radical feminist ideology and its anti-male orientation.

HB 44 contains a zoning component with a year in jail for solicitations within 750 feet of a school or park. This is despite the fact that such places at say 2 AM might cause less problems for the community than right in front of someone’s house. Zoning of illegal activities is a foolish endeavor as it fails to consider where the activity will move to.

HB 240 contains increased sentencing for promotion of prostitution. Aside from the obvious problem of increasing prison populations no clear indication how this will reduce prostitution related problems can be had from the bill. Apparently there is a concern that pimps who abuse prostitutes don’t get enough time in jail with a ten year sentence and need a twenty. Since few of these people are ever brought to justice you’d think folks would recognize that law enforcement’s problem lies elsewhere. The simple desire to punish should not drive legislation.

HB 240 also increases the sentences of other people who may profit in some way from prostitution (such as a cab driver who gets tips from a working girl) to ten years in jail. No justification is given for this draconian step other than the argument proposed by radical feminists that all prostitution is slavery. Evidence of same should be required at trial before converting such petty offenders into long term felons.

About the author: Tracy Ryan has been an activist for the rights of the women, men, and transgendered persons doing sex work in Hawaii since 1995. She has successfully fought harmful legislation aimed at these persons. She is also the state chair of the Libertarian Party of Hawaii.