If a New York police officer thinks your skirt is too short and you happen to be carrying condoms, that’s reportedly enough evidence to arrest you.
Molly Crabapple at Vice reports on a study released last year by the Sex Workers Project and the PROS Network. It reveals shocking stories of police stopping, searching, and hauling away women who are minorities or transgender and happen to have condoms in their purses.
Police claim they are discouraging prostitution by confiscating women’s condoms or cuffing women who carry them. But half of the people whose condoms were taken away still had to engage in sex work later that night without a condom, according to SWP’s study.
And a growing number of sex workers say they are afraid to carry condoms because it’s likely to get them arrested. Forty six percent told PROS they hadn’t carried condoms while working because they feared police harassment, and the number rose to 75 percent among trangender prostitutes.
“Why is the city giving me condoms when I can’t carry them without going to jail?” one woman asked Human Rights Watch, which interviewed 200 sex workers across the country.
“I find no probative value at all in finding a condom,” Judge Richard M. Weinberg of Manhattan Criminal Court told the Times. “In the age of AIDS and H.I.V., if people are sexually active at a certain age, and they are not walking around with condoms, they are fools.”