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In New Zealand, street prostitution, escort services, pimping and brothels were decriminalized in 2003, and so far sex workers and the New Zealand government have raved about the arrangement. A government review in 2008 found the overall number of sex workers had not gone up since prostitution became legal, nor had instances of illegal sex-trafficking. The most significant change was sex workers enjoying safer and better working conditions. Researchers also found high levels of condom use and a very low rate of HIV among New Zealand sex workers.
The bottom line on decriminalization is that it is a means of harm reduction.
Keeping prostitution illegal is done in the name of women, yet it only perpetuates violence against them while expanding the reach of the carceral state. Decriminalization would end the punitive system wherein sex workers—a disproportionately female, minority and transgender group—are being separated from their families, thrown in jail, and saddled with court costs and criminal records over blow-jobs. It would also allow them to take more measures of precaution (like organizing in brothels) and give them access to the legal protections available other workers (like being able to go to the police when they’ve been wronged). Yet for Swedish Model advocates, only the total eradication of the sex trade will “save” women from the violence and exploitation associated with it.
Certainly some in the sex trade – like minors, for example – are exploited, abused and forced into prostitution, while others aren’t literally trafficked but feel trapped in the industry by economic necessity. These are the people who should receive attention, and resources, from social reformers. And there would be a lot more resources to devote if we left consenting adults to exchange money for sex in peace.
Report: DEA agents had ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes hired by drug cartels.
A sign with a DEA badge marks the entrance to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Museum in Arlington. (Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS)
Drug Enforcement Administration agents allegedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels overseas over a period of several years, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s watchdog.
The report did not specify the country where the parties occurred, but a law enforcement official familiar with the matter identified it as Colombia.
Seven of the 10 DEA agents alleged to have participated in the gatherings — most of which took place at an agent’s “quarters” leased by the U.S. government — admitted to having attended the parties, the report found. The agents, some of whom had top-secret security clearances, received suspensions of two to 10 days.
Former police officers in Colombia also alleged that three DEA supervisory special agents were provided with money, expensive gifts and weapons from drug cartel members, according to the report.
“Although some of the DEA agents participating in these parties denied it, the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds,” according to the 131-page report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.
The findings were part of a much broader investigation into the handling of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct from fiscal 2009 to 2012 at federal law enforcement agencies — the DEA, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Horowitz said the investigation was “significantly impacted and unnecessarily delayed” by repeated difficulties his office had in obtaining relevant information from the FBI and the DEA. When he did receive the information, he said, it “was still incomplete.”
In a statement, a spokesman for the Justice Department said officials took the issues raised in the inspector general’s report seriously and are “taking steps to implement policies and procedures to help prevent them from happening in the future.”
The investigation was launched in response to congressional inquiries following the 2012 prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, involving Secret Service agents.
At the time, one Secret Service advance agent implicated in the scandal told investigators that he had met with a prostitute as a result of an informal party that DEA agents hosted with Colombian women, according to officials briefed on the inquiry.
Ten of the 13 Secret Service personnel implicated were pressured to resign or retire, or were forced out of their jobs. Three were able to keep their positions, after it was determined that they had not violated their security clearances.
Much of the inspector general’s report focused on the handling of sexual misconduct allegations rather than specific episodes. The report concluded that the DEA, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service did not fully investigate these allegations despite significant evidence of misconduct.
At the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, the internal-affairs offices “chose not to investigate” some allegations of sexual misconduct, the report said. At the FBI, in 32 of 258 accusations of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, supervisors failed to report the allegations.