An interesting aspect of the Rhode Island legislation [against indoor prostitution, previously blogged here] is the General Assembly bill’s definition of prostitution. A person is guilty of prostitution when such person”engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee.” Section 11-34.12. “Sexual conduct”means”sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, any digital intrusion or intrusion by any object into the genital opening or anal opening of another person’s body, or by the stimulation by hand of another’s genitals for the purposes of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either person.” Section 11-34-1.1 [sic]. The Senate bill does not define prostitution.
Legislative drafting is a difficult because language is an imperfect means of communication. But I doubt that sponsoring Representatives Joanne M. Giannini, Elaine A. Coderre, Helio Melo, Al Gemma and Deborah A. Fellela intended to draft legislation that is flawed on its face. Notice what is not defined as”sexual conduct”â€“genital stimulation with objects; fully-clothed, non-manual bodily stimulation (look, no hands!) â€¦ the list goes on. Furthermore, what constitutes a”fee”? Does”paying”someone with groceries, dental services, an apartment constitute payment of a fee under this statute?
If this legislation is to be successful, Rhode Island legislators must define prostitution more carefully.