The Drug War is the most blatantly obvious example of persecution of those engaged in ‘victimless crimes’, and I have been concerned with ending it for my entire tenure in the LP (10 years now). There is another such ‘victimless crime’ that has more recently engaged my interest, due to my present occupation.
It is often said that prostitution is the ‘world’s oldest profession’. That may well be true. At the present time in the U.S., however, prostitutes typically are comprised of two varieties: those who choose the occupation because of its potentially lucrative properties, and those who start selling their wares due to addiction to drugs. In both cases, however, prostitutes face exploitation at the hands of a ‘pimp’ (read “business manager” who ranges from arranging customers for a fee to a ‘slaveowner’ who demands all profits with recourse to physical abuse ever present), as well as violence at the hands of a customer (since this occupation is not typically recognized by government, such violence almost always goes unreported). The state of Illinois is considering a bill (passed the Senate and now in the House there) that would allow workers in this profession some recourse in both situations:
Over the last year I have had the privilege of talking freely with female prostitutes in the City of St. Louis, and I can speak generally about what has been reported to me. First, these women are real human beings, most of whom have been victimized since an early age and who report continuing victimization because of their lifestyles, primarily involving addiction to drugs. Next, these women report having no ‘pimps’. This is somewhat unusual for a major metropolitan area, but the fact is that most prostitution that occurs here is directly drug-related. I have, however, heard or seen in the media stories elsewhere that corroborate the fact that prostitutes are often completely controlled by ‘pimps’ (to the extent that a woman who has not eaten in 24 hours hangs around a fast-food restaurant, holding her earnings, waiting to hear from her ‘pimp’ that it’s okay to spend a couple of dollars to feed herself). What I can corroborate from the women with whom I’ve spoken is that they live in fear while plying their trade on the streets. They readily admit that the fear of violence is tangible, at least until they are able to parlay the money they make into their drug of choice. (Of course, if the drugs were available at the local pharmacy, chances are excellent that they wouldn’t have to resort to selling their bodies and risking physical harm to get the ‘high’ they crave, but that’s a slightly different matter, involving another ‘victimless crime’.) I have heard women tell of times they were beaten and left for dead by people who were, or claimed up front to be, customers.
While my desire is that both prostitution and the pursuit of a ‘high’ through any pharmaceutical means one chooses would be made legal today, I applaud those in the Illinois legislature (and other states before this) who support some measure of justice for people who have most often entered this profession because of past victimization.