Promoting Prostitution Is a Crime in Pennsylvania, but Just What Does It Entail?
When most people outside the legal profession hear the phrase “sex crimes,” they tend to think first of the most outrageous offenses such as rape or child molestation. Many arrests for sex-related offenses, however, involve charges that are substantially less violent such as promoting prostitution. Why is promoting prostitution classified as a crime? Because for sex-related crimes, including promoting prostitution, the goal of our state legislature is not to criminalize sexuality; but, rather, to protect the potential victims from sexual exploitation and violence.
What Do the Opioid Epidemic and Human Trafficking Have to Do with Sex Crimes?
In Pennsylvania, unlike states such as Nevada, there are no laws or regulations that establish rights and protections for sex workers. Consequently, with the exception of a very small percentage of “high end” call girls or “escorts”, it is fair to say that very few people in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would voluntarily choose to be a prostitute. The reality is that the personal histories of most individuals charged with prostitution involves a combination physical, mental and/or sexual abuse, poverty, alcohol or drug addiction, and mental health issues. With regard to the promotion of prostitution, the policy behind the law is to punish those who would profit financially from the sexual exploitation of others.
Without question, drug addiction exposes vulnerable individuals to sexual exploitation, regardless of circumstances. An addict being susceptible to trading sexual favors is deplorable; however, one of the unfortunate consequences of the ever-expanding opioid epidemic is the increase in instances of human trafficking, in which addicts, especially young women, are forced to prostitute themselves for the financial gain of others.
Mary Burke, a professor of psychology and the founder of a nonprofit organization called the Project to End Human Trafficking, attributes the recent increase in arrests in Pennsylvania for promoting prostitution, and in human trafficking, to two causes. First, the opioid epidemic has left more people in desperate circumstances that would lead them to prostitute themselves. Second, the fracking industry in Pennsylvania has meant that more people come to the state for temporary work. Men working far from their homes and loved ones for extended periods of time, account for a large percentage of the arrests for soliciting prostitution.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
If you have been charged with a sex crime in Pittsburgh, it is imperative that you reach out to a legal professional for help. Don’t hesitate to contact Gary E. Gerson to discuss your case and to learn how we can help you moving forward.