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It’s been reported that police in D.C., the city with the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the country, are using possession of condoms as evidence of sex work.

And they’re not the only ones; New York and San Francisco have used safe-sex devices as a means for arrest, as well.

WTF? How can it be legal to punish, wrongfully label, and mar one’s public image all because he or she made a conscious decision, at some point, to do what they’ve probably been told their whole life?

I remember being told to abstain from sex. At least until marriage. And if I wasn’t planning on abstaining, I was supposed to use protection. And if I was to use protection, I wasn’t supposed to depend on the guy to bring it. Meaning I had to make the “walk of shame” to the nearest CVS myself, past the hair and body products, and into the family planning (or lack thereof) section. “Put your life into your own hands” – it was said and it was true. And then, unfortunately, in high school, someone mentioned that girls who carried condoms were “easy” and those that were easily influenced stopped using them and some got pregnant and some didn’t. (What definitely didn’t happen though were those girls becoming prostitutes but, I guess, that’s a minor oversight.)

There was a contradiction, though. Getting free condoms from the nurse was always an option, but never a rule. It was promoted, but looked down upon. READ MORE BELOW THE GALLERY!

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And the same goes for the grand city of New York. It’s been distributing free condoms to combat STDs since 1971, but some businesses are even afraid to offer them because they can also be used as evidence of “maintaining a premises for prostitution.” In D.C., if caught carrying three or more condoms in a “Prostitution Free Zone,” you can be accused of intent to sell sex. But in San Francisco, police defended this practice by claiming that “a pocket full of condoms alone is not a basis for arrest.”

A basis for arrest? Should it be a factor at all?

I’m not condoning public sex – far from it. But a late night out, a single car ride somewhere, and a pocketful of condoms doesn’t always mean prostitution – maybe one hell of a night with no inhibitions and a happy ending, but not illegal sex.

What do YOU think? Are the police infringing on our human rights? Or taking needed precaution?

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