ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – News 4 has been tracking the rise in prostitution in south St. Louis in recent months.
In August, a city ordinance used to arrest prostitutes was ruled unconstitutional by the courts, causing call girls to be released back out on the street. Since then residents in the St. Louis neighborhoods of Dutchtown and Carondelet neighborhoods have about worsening problems with prostitutes.
“It’s very aggravating, all day long back and forth pestering our customers flagging down cars that are passing by,” said business owner Chris Green.
But new legislation is working its way through the St. Louis Board of Aldermen that will give police a new law to crack down on call girls. It would make it illegal for someone to repeatedly stop or attempt to stop passersby.
At first glance the new ordinance looks like it would criminalize anyone repeatedly trying to stop passersby, like fundraisers. But the ordinance goes on to make clear it’s what’s said that’s illegal—asking for or offering up sex. Currently cops have to catch them in the act.
“That’s really difficult,” said Lewis Reed, President of the Board of Alderman. “So this ordinance does it amends the prostitution ordinance within the city of St. Louis to add the solicitation portion of it.”
Late in the afternoon at the corner at Bates and South Broadway, residents say car after car stops and picks up prostitutes.
The new ordinance goes after the men who pick them up. Johns can face fines of up to $500 and be sent to “john school.” That’s where they’ll learn about venereal disease and how devastating a life of prostitution can be for the women.
And the ordinance gives the judge the option to send prostitutes to treatment instead of jail, as many are drug addicts.
“Some of these young ladies come into this at a very young age,” said Reed. “So it’s important to get them the help that they need.”
The ordinance is expected to get final approval a week from Friday.