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Philadelphia: Where women are still prostitutes and men are still innocent

It's not just the Mummers club. Apparently, it's really, really hard to get arrested for buying sex in Philadelphia—and really easy to get arrested for selling it. Our latest example is a bust at the Penthouse Club in Port Richmond, where seven dancers and one manager were arrested Friday night on prostitution charges.

And the johns? Off scot-free. Once again.

Some interesting details:

The investigation and subsequent raid by the LCE and the police Citywide Vice Unit had been prompted by community complaints, including those from the spouses of men who'd blown their family's grocery money at the club, said Sgt. Bill LaTorre of LCE. 
At the Penthouse Club, on Castor Avenue near Delaware, men would pay $300 for 30 minutes in the champagne room or $250 for a skybox, police said. There, guys could partake in any number of sexual acts with the dancers, including "the front door, the back door and the upstairs," LaTorre said. 
State Police did not immediately identify those arrested. LaTorre said the seven female dancers and one male manager were charged because they soliticted undercover officers, but he suggested more people could have been involved in prostitution.
I'm going to go ahead and say the men who blew their family's grocery money on sex at the Penthouse Club were involved in prostitution. None of them were arrested. Again.

Again, I'm not sure that prostitution should be a crime—and if it should be, the women who engage in prostitution are often its victims, not merely the perpetrators. But we should all be able to agree that you can't sell sex if nobody's buying. In case after Philadelphia case, though, the official stance is that it doesn't take two to criminally tango. It makes no sense.

I get the police perspective: It's harder to make the cases against the johns—undercover officers aren't necessarily privy to the transactions in which men buy the sex. But the pattern of enforcement in these big stings is that the men whose appetites create the crime are allowed to walk away free, while the women who are the objects of those appetites are burdened with arrests, criminal records, and social opprobrium. 

It's unfair. More than that, it's obscenely wrong.

LaTorre told the Daily News that police will probably doing a lot more of these strip club prostitution busts. If we continue to see these kinds of the stories in the news—where lots of women are arrested, but the johns never, ever are—there will be only one realistic conclusion: That Philadelphia police and prosecutors are happy to engage plainly sexist methods of enforcing the law.


Anonymous said…
Philadelphia PD was more worried about the wives of the "gentlemen" who found credit card reciepts from the club.Their husband were spending their families money. What business is that to the police department?? Are we arresting retail store because husbands are finding hidden reciepts from retail shoe stores?? Is the Sugar house Casino next? I'm sure that little operation is putting a bigger dent on the average "John's" family finances. Im not pro prositution but seriously..... I saw the end of the fox news report and felt sick to my stomach. What are we in the 1800's?? WTF?
Anonymous said…
I don't this is a "Philly" thing, I think it's a "we live in a sick world created by men" thing. Women are a cheap commodity the world around.

See, for example, this interesting statistical data from Chicago:

Specifically: "We estimate that prostitutes are officially arrested only once per 450 tricks" (p. 7)

vs. "Using the estimates above of 1.6 million acts of prostitution per year, this implies a mean estimate of almost 1,200 tricks per one john’s arrest.

Even with a data skew / standard deviation inherent in estimating tricks, that's nearly a 3x differential.

And picking up on this, Sweden is apparently the only place that prosecutes more johns than prostitutes.
Joel said…
Anon No. 2: I think you're right that it's not a "Philly thing." But it's *really annoying* me in Philly right now. Your data is good, and points to a broader issue. But as long as the Philadelphia Police pursue cases this way—and I'm a citizen here—I'm going to single 'em out. It's a travesty.
Anonymous said…
it should not be the business of anyone what 2 consenting adults do . If i want to pay for sex and the girl wants to it should be between us not anyone else this country is a joke.
Anonymous said…
I agree with Anonymous post Feb 5, 2012. This county runs the US dollar into the ground through reckless spending and printing of money and we are worried about consenting guys/gals paying for sex (adult entertainment)? Arrest members of congress for financial terrorism! We are among the only country in the world where this is still illegal. What a financial waste. It should be regulated for health and safety reasons. Lay off these useless vice units and start managing the government properly. Adult film is legal, strip clubs are legal, massage parlors are legal to operate. This country is a joke.
countypa said…
Men never get arrested they have sex all the time in the theater/peep shows at the adult book stores the owner make a lot of money from these sex acts, our society is at risk with HIV....(dirtandmoredirt com)

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