I recently came across an interesting article called Her Crime? Sex Work in New Orleans published on COLORLINES: The national news magazine on race and politics
The article says in part, that the sex worker they are profiling has “a stamp printed on her driver’s license labels her a sex offender” just because she is a sex worker. As a Canadian, where sex work isn’t illegal (just negotiating for it in public) labelling a sex worker as a sex offender is outrageous to me.
They add that “New Orleans city police and the district attorney’s office are using a state law written for child molesters to charge hundreds of sex workers like Tabitha as sex offenders. The law, which dates back to 1805, makes it a crime against nature to engage in “unnatural copulation”—a term New Orleans cops and the district attorney’s office have interpreted to mean anal or oral sex. Sex workers convicted of breaking this law are charged with felonies, issued longer jail sentences and forced to register as sex offenders.” They also can’t do things like wear a costume at Mardi Gras.
And of course, this law is feminized and racialized. “Of the 861 sex offenders currently registered in New Orleans, 483 were convicted of a crime against nature, according to Doug Cain, a spokesperson with the Louisiana State Police. And of those convicted of a crime against nature, 78 percent are Black and almost all are women.” I can pretty much guarantee that most of those women are also often living in poverty; one of the reasons why they may have turned to sex work in the first place.
Definitely food for thought.