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Las Vegas Newspaper Outs Prostititutes With Full-Color Photos

By February 20, 2009

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For over five years now Las Vegas has used the slogan "What happens here, stays here" to promote itself in the travel and tourism industry. But if you're a 'working girl' in Vegas, what happens here gets published in the local paper - along with a very recognizable photo.

This is how Sin City cracks down on prostitutes and sex workers - by outing them via color photos in the daily paper and online. Their clients remain anonymous as do the pimps who are part of the supply side chain.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal article has drawn a great deal of fire. Among the commentaries:

From Erica C. Barnett at Shakesville

Publishing a lavish photo spread featuring "Las Vegas' most prolific prostitutes"--under the 64-point headline, "WORKING GIRLS"--isn't edgy, interesting, or funny. It doesn't do your readers a service....[Y]ou devoted 1,400 words and several full-color pages to "outing" these women, many of whom (not that you'd know it from reading your story) are statistically likely to have been sexually abused, to be addicted to drugs, to be beaten and exploited by their pimps, or to have been forced into prostitution at a very young age.
From Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon.com's Broadsheet
These are tough days for newspapers....desperately struggling to make ends meet, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal took it to a new low recently by publishing the mug shots, names and ages of suspected sex workers...The photos were compiled to help police crack down on hooking on the Strip, but the Review-Journal decided to publicize the photos to the general public. It also designed a snazzy online slide show offering close-up peeks at the gals.
From Ann Friedman at Feministing.com
Clearly the only people with this "lifestyle," involved in this crime, are the women. Yup, all those women, selling sex to each other. Nah, no men purchasing sex. No pimps. Only these women pictured....Can you imagine the local police imposing a "crackdown" on johns or on pimps? Publishing photos of the men involved in this crime? Yeah, me neither. Even though I'm willing to bet there are a LOT of male repeat offenders as well.
And the program to combat prostitution - the focus of the article - has also engendered criticism:

From Richard Abowitz at the Los Angeles Times

...[O]ne of the most elaborate crackdowns on hookers in the history of the Strip....is called VETO (Vice Enforcement Top Offenders) and has gathered up the names of the 50 women whom police describe as "the most prolific prostitutes" in Vegas....

But there are some problems. First...a number of women have been charged with trespassing or loitering and not prostitution. The casinos have banned the women and they returned. Prostitution was not directly involved in most of the arrests the program is taking credit for making....VETO...is only touching on one small part of the illegal prostitution that is everywhere in Vegas.....

For example, nothing in this program is meant to catch casino hosts who supply high rollers with hookers for kickbacks from the hookers. Also, there is a huge and thriving Internet community of escort prostitutes who work through websites that even contain consumer reviews by customers that also escapes targeting by this program

Related article: Prostitution and Sex Workers - Facts and Statistics

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