Luckily for New York City residents, they may be able to carry around as many condoms as they want without running the risk of being accused of prostitution. In the interest of upholding public health values, the New York Police Department said Friday that they are going to review current legislation that allows them to accuse anyone of being a sex worker based on the number of condoms on their person.
Now, this current legislation just doesn’t seem fair — what if the accused person was just handed a bunch of free, NYC-branded KYNG condoms? Or what if an NYU student took an innocent stop at the condom buckets in their health center or called the Condom Fairy, like Boston University students have the luxury of doing? Condom possession shouldn’t be something people should be deterred form carrying, but rather something that should be encouraged.
According to a Sunday Fox News article, NYPD makes about 2,500 prostitution arrests a year. The department has opposed this bill for years, and is finally looking to revise the policy of using condoms as evidence for prostitution. Hawk Kinkaid, an avid advocate against this legislation and former male escort, said the ability for officials to use condom possession as grounds to prosecute undermines public health goals of spreading awareness of safe sex.
“The fear that this [legislation] will be used against you — it prevents people from being able to protect themselves,” Kinkaid said.
According to a 2010 study by the New York City Department of Health, more than half of the 60 sex workers surveyed had condoms seized by the police. The same study indicates that nearly one-third reported not carrying condoms at times because they were afraid of getting in trouble by the police.
More often than not, those who have found themselves in the prostitution business are not in it voluntarily, and condoms are important agents used to protect themselves against pregnancy and diseases. Although it would be ideal for the NYPD to eradicate prostitution in the city altogether, such would be nearly impossible. And, if anything, this legislation perpetuates the act of unprotected sex.
This current legislation should be reversed, as it has several negative implications for public health, and it contradicts the whole “don’t be silly, wrap your willy,” mantra that we were taught in sex ed.