Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady of the Night: DC Cops Can Arrest You for Carrying More Than Two Condoms

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Washington DC police can arrest a woman  in any area they’ve declared prostitution free zone. And in a backasswards move to curb prostitution, carrying more than two condoms is considered proof of intention to prostitute.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been lucky enough to date 3+ condom types. And even with one shot wonders, the fact is condoms break and you may need spares. A smart dater brings his or her own just to be safe. And to make sure you have the brand you like.

But all of that aside, “you’re a whore for carrying condoms” issue puts prostitutes and their clients (not to mention their clients’ other sex partners) at risk for HIV/AIDS and other STDs. Washington DC has an HIV/AIDS infection rate of 3%, the highest in the United States.

Dr. Ray Martins, Chief Medical Officer at the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the largest provider of HIV care in the nation’s capital said

If we know that three percent are currently diagnosed, the underlying number is probably five and six, or closer to five percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization consider a one percent infection rate as the threshold for a severe epidemic.

12 Responses to "Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady of the Night: DC Cops Can Arrest You for Carrying More Than Two Condoms"
Elliott | Thursday January 7, 2010 06:57 pm 1

This is absurd


Lisa Derrick | Thursday January 7, 2010 10:50 pm 2

Well, it’s DC, where things are very, very absurd.


twolf1 | Friday January 8, 2010 06:17 am 3

How do you get your condoms home from the store without getting arrested?


wicketywack | Friday January 8, 2010 07:24 pm 4

what about male prostitutes??!?


doogiehowsermd | Friday January 8, 2010 08:56 pm 5

The AIDS argument really doesn’t dissuade me here. Since AIDS mostly kills blacks (and the poor), this isn’t much of a deterrent.

Now, catching the leaky-pipe from some rent-a-chick would be a problem…


newtonusr | Friday January 8, 2010 09:59 pm 6

Gawd, somebody left the screen open.


lazlototh | Saturday January 9, 2010 12:15 am 7

Umm, as much as I hate to ruin a good moral panic… By calling it “a move” and “is considered proof,” your phrasing implies that this is an explicit policy decision.

But in the article you link to from the Womensrights blog, it merely says “And they’ve been accused of using carrying three or more condoms as proof of intent to sell sex.” And if you follow that to the RH Reality Check blog, it only says that arrests based on carrying multiple condoms is “not uncommon,” and that “anecdotal evidence suggests” you can be arrested for having three or more.

I skimmed the entire Move Along Report PDF and also searched on the term “condom.” There is NOTHING about any formal policy that treats the carrying of protection as legal evidence of prostitution. As far as I can see, there are only reports of cops making arrests, on their own, on that basis.

That’s still an abusive, anti-woman, and socially harmful practice. I’m not arguing against that for a second. But I’m already seeing people on sites like Reddit and Digg talking as if Washington DC passed a *law* saying women can be arrested for having three or more condoms, that it’s part of this Prostitution-Free Zone program, and that ordinary women are somehow in grave danger of being arrested there purely on the basis of carrying a bunch of condoms in their purse.

I think there’s a kernel of truth to this story, obviously, but I’m watching it get further and further out of hand the further removed it gets from original sources. Straight up, is there any evidence that the “three condoms” thing exists on paper anywhere, or is it just something people are picking up from reading too fast?

C’mon, guys, I just got finished crowing at a bunch of conservatives who were spreading inane rumors about our president. I really want to believe that we’re the Good Guys and that we actually do our homework before we snap to conclusions. I *totally* support the cause of public reproductive health and better treatment of women, but now I’m worried we’re gonna start an urban legend that it’s “illegal for women to carry more than three condoms in Washington DC.” In fact, that legend seems to have already started. And that upsets me. :(


anwar815 | Saturday January 9, 2010 12:18 am 8

So now prostitutes will just avoid buying condoms all together to evade arrest.


undrgrndgirl | Saturday January 9, 2010 10:59 am 9

prostitution-free zones in DC…hmmm, does that include capitol hill AND the white house ??? in addition to “common” prostitution those folks are corporate prostitutes (or are they pimps?) for big agra, big insurance, big pharma, big banks, etc..etc..they have certainly sold our bodies to big insurance and big pharma!!


undrgrndgirl | Saturday January 9, 2010 11:00 am 10
In response to doogiehowsermd @ 5

geeze, that’s some comment from someone who calls him/herself doogie howser MD…


speakermonkey | Saturday January 9, 2010 07:16 pm 11
In response to doogiehowsermd @ 5

Where are you getting your information? That is probably the most naive and ignorant statement I’ve heard in a long time…Bottom line HIV/AIDs does not discriminate…


theandrewdavis | Sunday January 10, 2010 11:24 am 12
In response to speakermonkey @ 11

Troll: someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. — Wikipedia


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