Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | 10:58 a.m.
CARSON CITY – Girls as young as 12 to 14 years old are being forced into prostitution and Las Vegas is a hot spot for such trafficking, a state Senate committee was told this morning.
A lobbyist for Nevada’s brothel industry joined police and national groups to support a law that would permit a woman who was pressured or coerced into prostitution to ask a court to erase her conviction.
Julie Janovsky of the Polaris Project said sex for sale is one of the fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. She told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that women who are forced into prostitution are often required by their pimps to earn $500 to $1,200 a night.
George Flint, who represents the legal brothels that operate in Nevada's rural counties, told the committee there were 5,000 arrests in Clark County for prostitution and 100 arrests of pimps last year.
Flint said he “wholeheartedly supports” Assembly Bill 6 but took exception to statements that the brothel industry contributes to the problem. He said women, before they are employed at a brothel, must be of age, are interviewed by the local sheriff’s office and must be cleared by the FBI.
He said there was no connection between the “massive amount” of prostitution in Las Vegas and Reno and the brothels in rural Nevada. “It’s apple and oranges,” he said.
Jill Morris, international constituency director of the Not For Sale Campaign, said traffickers take advantage of the legal sex industry in Nevada. Las Vegas has been identified as one of the top “hot spots” for prostitution in the world, Morris said.
The bill would allow a woman who was forced into prostitution to have those convictions erased. There was no opposition and the Judiciary Committee will vote later on the measure, likely on Thursday.
The bill was introduced by Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, who said it was a request for mercy. Pimps often abuse and threaten women who fear for their safety.
With a prostitution conviction, women have trouble getting a job when they leave the business. They have to note their conviction on job applications, he said.
The measure gained the support of the ACLU, the Clark County Public Defender’s Office, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Nevada Catholic Conference and the Religious Alliance in Nevada.