On May 2, 2019, a woman was arrested for prostitution in Trafford, Pennsylvania. She was charged with various acts of promoting prostitution, including two counts of owning, controlling, managing, supervising or otherwise keeping a house of prostitution (a third-degree felony) and two counts of soliciting, receiving, or agreeing to receive any benefit for doing anything forbidden by 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 5902(b) (a third-degree felony). She was also charged with two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia (a third-degree misdemeanor). She is currently being held on bail in Westmoreland Country Prison and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on May 14, 2019.
According to media reports, police received several complaints about ““heavy traffic involving various males of various ages” at the woman’s apartment. The men allegedly stayed for thirty minutes or less at the apartment. The “heavy traffic” started in January of this year and lasted through May. During the investigation of the complaints, a police officer located advertisements on two adult services websites along with ratings and reviews connected with the woman’s phone number.
The CSE Institute is disheartened by this woman’s arrest. Prostituted persons are arrested and prosecuted at a much higher rate than sex buyers in the Commonwealth, although both are criminalized by Pennsylvania law. Instead of focusing on arresting prostituted persons, the CSE Institute advocatesfor the implementation of the Nordic Model, which criminalizes those who buy sex while decriminalizing those who sell sex. Such approach recognizes that prostitution is inherently violent and that prostituted persons are victims. As victims, prostituted persons are best served by receiving social services and having access to exit programs, not criminal records. The Nordic Model also recognizes that it is those who buy sex that drive the market for commercial sex and are therefore the true perpetrators that must be held accountable. We encourage local authorities throughout the Commonwealth to adopt demand-drive tactics so that they can take meaningful steps in eliminating commercial sexual exploitation in their jurisdictions once and for all.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or Villanova University.