Like many cities, Houston doesn’t have the funds to analyze all of the rape kits sitting in their labs.
The city needs to raise money, so they did something clever… They created a “strip club fee” wherein every strip club patron must pay $5 toward analyzing rape kits.
I can imagine that some men feel this is discriminatory. After all, aren’t the majority of patrons at strip clubs men? Don’t the majority of rape kits belong to female victims?
But having rape kits analyzed benefits men who are falsely accused or identified as well. DNA that has been analyzed after many years has exonerated many men, some on death row. If they can’t analyze the DNA, they can’t use the DNA to free innocent people. Certainly some of these rape kits also belong to male victims, and they must have a representative set of evidence sitting there, unanalyzed.
The Wall Street Journal investigates this tax further:
Supporters of the ordinance, which was supported by Mayor Annise Parker and approved on a 14-1 vote, contend that strip clubs should shoulder some of the costs of rape investigations because the establishments can cultivate unhealthy attitudes toward women that can lead to sexual assaults.
“There are negative secondary effects associated with adult-entertainment establishments,” said Ellen Cohen, the council member who championed the ordinance, which could generate up to $3 million in annual revenue.
This is where they lost me. I want to see evidence that there is a tie between established strip clubs and sexual violence against women.
Luckily, WSJ also featured commentary to counter:
Critics strongly question attempts to tie strip clubs to violence against women, calling the fee unfair. “There is no known correlation between people going to nice, high-end gentlemen’s clubs and rape,” said Albert Van Huff, a Houston lawyer who represents local strip clubs.
A 2009 report by the University of Texas at Austin concluded that no study has “authoritatively linked alcohol, sexually oriented businesses, and the perpetration of violence.”
WSJ also notes that nationally, the number of unprocessed rape kits numbers around 400,000. That’s a staggering number. When you think about how many men are probably falsely imprisoned, while the real perpetrators walk the street because of the natural failings of victim eye-witnesses and other factors, due to financial shortcomings, that number is terrifying!
What do you think of the “pole tax” in Texas?
Photo of sexy stripper courtesy of Shutterstock