he Florida legislature passed legislation within the past week, Senate Bill 540 and House Bill 851, to establish a public database that tracks people convicted of, or who have pleaded guilty to, soliciting paid sex.
While the legislation’s bipartisan authors consider it to be a step toward ending human trafficking, critics call it a means to publicly shame clients and others associated with people who do consensual sex work.
The Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database will include anyone convicted of or pleading guilty to “soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation,” according to the Senate version of the bill, drafted by Democratic Senator Lauren Book.
“This isn’t creating a list of bad or dangerous clients; it’s just a list of clients who got caught by the police,” Bailey told Filter. “It’s impossible to tell the good guys from the bad if you lump them all together. Men who pay for sex aren’t predators. Predators who pose as clients are. When you make potential clients scared of giving sex workers the information they need to screen, you make it impossible to tell the difference between men who are scared and men who are scary.”
And inclusion in the Database would have ripple effects across a client’s life. “Putting them on a registry and imposing a mandatory sentence of five days for a first offense could result in lost wages and lost jobs,” wrote Andrews. “Public shaming of a consensual act could result in the breaking up of a family. A lost job could result in losing health insurance benefits. A lost job might mean they can’t pay the rent or the mortgage or buy food. They may not be able to get another job because they are on this registry. It perpetuates poverty.”
“Research does not support punitive public shaming. Our legislators need to listen to sex workers and victims of trafficking.”