There’s a scary new report out from Human Rights Watch, detailing alleged abuse by the New Orleans Police Department.
According to the report, police there have started using condom possession as evidence of prostitution. In other words, if they find a condom in your wallet, they might haul you off to jail.
They don’t need to witness you doing anything else. One woman reports that the police searched all the trans people at a bar and arrested any who had condoms.
This is a huge problem, obviously, since it means that people will be less inclined to use protection. In fact, the report also documented a decrease in condom use directly attributed to the harassment.
Police in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC are also reported to be using condoms as evidence against sex workers.
But safe-sex advocates are fighting back: the state of New York just passed a law banning the use of condoms to arrest sex workers. And in DC, the police seem to have renounced the practice.
In New Orleans, however, there’s no indication that the harassment will stop. And the state’s rate of AIDS-related mortality is more than twice the national average, good grief. Legal reforms are needed to make harm-reduction possible.
In the mean time, if you’re in NOLA, be safe, please.