The law has recently come under fire, with some calling it unnecessary and even “nonsensical”. Hawaii cops claim that if the law were to be removed, sex trade workers would be able to screen for police by demanding that sex occur before payment. If it were illegal for the police to do that, the game would be up. However, all that’s really necessary to make an arrest is to agree to a price.
Which leads to the question of how often this particular exemption from the law is used by police. Honolulu cops wouldn’t say, claiming that it would compromise investigations in the future… somehow. One way or another, it’s more than a little unseemly to imagine that police could perform an act that is illegal and then arrest the other person for it.
In the 1800s, up to 75% of New York men had a sexually transmitted disease of some kind, and there were over 200 brothels in lower Manhattan. By the end of that century, there was growing concern about “white slavery”, and women who worked in brothels were interviewed to find out if they were there against their will. In 1910, a federal law called the Mann Act was created to curb prostitution, human trafficking and perceived “immorality”.
Of course, that didn’t stop the industry from continuing to grow in secret, and in 2014 a woman working as a high class prostitute in Florida claimed she was making up to $80,000 per month!
Whatever your personal ethical view on prostitution, it is certainly one of the most dangerous in the United States – “Deadliest Catch” be damned. One study had the mortality rate for sex workers at 459 per 100,000, compared to 121 per 100,000 for fishermen, which is one of the most deadly professions around.
So there are many sides to the issue of prostitution, and given the history it’s somewhat understandable why it’s on the wrong side of the law. But Hawaiian police may be a little too eager when it comes to this part of the job.