Melissa Farley, “Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections”

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Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada addresses the scope of the sex industry in Nevada, including human rights violations against women in the Nevada legal brothels. The book describes how the multibillion-dollar illegal sex industry in Las Vegas works. Sex trafficking from within and outside of the US, advertising for prostitution, political corruption, pornography, organized crime and the constant demand of men for paid sex – all contribute to prostitution and trafficking in Nevada.

The Guardian featured an article about the book entitled “It’s like you sign a contract to be raped.” Here is an excerpt:

… During a two-year investigation, the author, Melissa Farley, visited eight legal brothels in Nevada, interviewing 45 women and a number of brothel owners. Far from enjoying better conditions than those who work illegally, the prostitutes she spoke to are often subject to slave-like conditions.

Described as “pussy penitentiaries” by one interviewee, the brothels tend to be in the middle of nowhere, out of sight of ordinary Nevadans. (Brothels are officially allowed only in counties with populations of fewer than 400,000, so prostitution remains an illegal – though vast – trade in conurbations such as Las Vegas.) The brothel prostitutes often live in prison-like conditions, locked in or forbidden to leave.

“The physical appearance of these buildings is shocking,” says Farley. “They look like wide trailers with barbed wire around them – little jails.” The rooms all have panic buttons, but many women told her that they had experienced violent and sexual abuse from the customers and pimps.

“I saw a grated iron door in one brothel,” says Farley. “The women’s food was shoved through the door’s steel bars between the kitchen and the brothel area. One pimp starved a woman he considered too fat. She made a friend outside the brothel who would throw food over the fence for her.” Another pimp told Farley matter-of-factly that many of the women working for him had histories of sexual abuse and mental ill-health. “Most,” he said, “have been sexually abused as kids. Some are bipolar, some are schizophrenic.”

Then there is the fact that legal prostitutes seem to lose the rights ordinary citizens enjoy. From 1987, prostitutes in Nevada have been legally required to be tested once a week for sexually transmitted diseases and monthly for HIV. Customers are not required to be tested. The women must present their medical clearance to the police station and be finger-printed, even though such registration is detrimental: if a woman is known to work as a prostitute, she may be refused health insurance, face discrimination in housing or future employment, or endure accusations of unfit motherhood. In addition, there are countries that will not permit registered prostitutes to settle, so their movement is severely restricted.

Those who support the system claim that the regulations may help prevent pimping, which they see as a worse form of exploitation to that which occurs in brothels. According to Farley’s research though, most women in legal brothels have pimps outside anyway, be they husbands or boyfriends. And, as Chong Kim, a survivor of prostitution who has worked with Farley, says, some of the legal brothel owners “are worse than any pimp. They abuse and imprison women and are fully protected by the state.”

The women are expected to live in the brothels and to work 12- to 14-hour shifts. Mary, a prostitute in a legal brothel for three years, outlines the restrictions. “You are not allowed to have your own car,” she notes. “It’s like [the pimp's] own little police state.” When a customer arrives, a bell rings, and the women immediately have to present themselves in a line-up, so he can choose who to buy. …

Via Reclusive Leftist.

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