(Chuck Muth) – A government mandated “lockdown” policy proposed for sex workers in Nye County’s legal brothels – forcing them to remain on the premises round-the-clock with only a six-hour window of freedom for every ten-day period – has sparked outrage among the women and civil libertarians.
Alice Little, a politically active sex worker at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Lyon County, described the proposal as a “medieval dark time of policy.”
“What we’re talking about here,” Little said in an interview, “is the government locking down and restraining the freedom of adult women working in a legal business to come and go as they please even when not working.”
According to a report by Miranda Willson of the Las Vegas Sun last Friday, Nye County Commission Chairman John Koenig said “A working draft of the proposal was crafted over the last two years and completed last month.”
He added that “No sex workers were included in conversations about the proposed changes.”
“The proposed changes,” Willson reported, “were decided by a group of local stakeholders, including brothel owners, ‘madams’ of the brothels, the district attorney’s office, lawyers and other county officials, Koenig said.”
“(The changes) were proposed mainly by the owners and the people who run the brothels. That’s how they wanted it written, so that’s what we did,” Koenig said.
According to the story, Commissioner Koenig said that courtesans “could have unprotected sex when they are off the premises for long periods of time.” But others reject that argument.
They note that no other county government has such a draconian “lockdown” policy inscribed in law, and there’s never been a public health problem related to sexually transmitted diseases traced back to sex workers in Nevada’s legal brothels where condom use is mandatory.
And in a separate story by Amy Alonzo of the Mason Valley News, Alien Cathouse owner Raman Sharma – who said he, too, was not consulted over the drafting of the new ordinance – noted that “If you’re (restricting hours) for the safety or well-being of people or clients, even if it’s one hour, it takes only 10 minutes or 10 seconds for someone to get contracted (with an STD).”
Meaning the six-hour “freedom window” is arbitrary at best. At worst, it’s akin to “yard time” for prisoners.
“I think it reinforces this thought that sex workers are these dirty, disgusting women that have to be kept from the public and be locked up,” said Christina Parreira, who previously worked in Nye County brothels and is doing her doctoral dissertation at UNLV on the industry.
Barbara Brents, author of The State of Sex: Tourism, Sex and Sin in the New American Heartland, “questioned whether Nye’s proposed amendment is legal.”
“I can’t imagine any other group of workers who would be limited on when they could leave the workplace by the county,” Dr. Brents told the Sun. “So, this seems on the face of it to be … a step backwards.”
In his interview with the Sun, Commissioner Koenig said opponents of the ordinance provision “are welcome to reach out to him and discuss it.” With that in mind, Parreira drafted an “Action Alert” which provides email contact information for Mr. Koenig and the other Nye County Commissioners.
The full ordinance, including the proposed “lockdown” provision, is expected to be introduced at the commission’s October 15th meeting.
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a limited-government grassroots advocacy organization and an adviser to the Nevada Brothel Association. His views are his own.