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The Certified John

The Certified John
By: Brenda Zurita - 9/12/2008

The Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network (BAYSWAN) and other pro-prostitution groups are supporting Measure K, a ballot initiative in San Francisco this November which would decriminalize prostitution. Part of their reasoning behind this is that they want to make prostitution safer for prostituted persons.

Actually, the way to ensure the safety and well-being of prostituted persons is to end the dehumanizing and enslaving prostitution industry and help these women and children receive counseling and gainful employment.

Measure K also seeks to defund a very successful program called First Offender Prostitution Program (FOPP), which teaches johns arrested for their first offense about the detrimental effects of prostitution on johns, prostituted persons and the community. FOPP seeks to end the demand for prostitution, which is the only way to put a stop to the abuse and degradation that is prostitution.

If San Francisco is intent on voting on this ballot initiative, which I hope and pray fails, then I would like to suggest a john certification initiative they should consider writing: Accepted Behavior for Use and Safety to Eliminate Rap Sheets (ABUSERS, for short). If johns are going to use prostitutes, then they should know how to use them safely and respectfully.

The Brady Law inspired the idea, as it requires background checks and supports waiting periods, permits, and training for people who want to purchase guns. ABUSERS also uses some of the legalization proposals that require licensing prostituted persons and mandatory periodic health check-ups. By the time a john completes all the requirements, he should be a veritable model of propriety, except, of course, that he would still be a john.

So, here’s how to become an ABUSERS-certified john.

Step One: The Background Check/Waiting Period

The checks run on potential gun owners are run through the National Instant Check System (NICS) and allow law enforcement to check different records such as restraining orders, committals for mental illness, domestic violence misdemeanors and, of course, criminal records. So maybe ABUSERS could piggyback on the same system for john checks. Now johns, by their very existence, are breaking the law (except in some counties in Nevada and soon maybe San Francisco), so it’ll be a bit tricky (no pun intended) as to how to handle previous arrests/convictions for solicitation – does that disqualify them from passing the background check, or does that make them experienced buyers and therefore certifiable?

They will not pass the check if they have restraining orders sworn out against them by prostituted persons or domestic violence misdemeanors because that means they are prone to beating up others, and the purpose is to make prostituted persons safe. Abolishing all forms of violence in prostitution is the goal, except for those forms of prostitution that encourage violence. Therefore, those with restraining orders and domestic violence convictions will receive certification for only the violent sex acts.

Johns living in states or localities with no instant check system will have to endure a waiting period while their background check is run the old-fashioned way. If they’re in a hurry, they could always move to Nevada (or San Francisco after November).

Step Two: The Health Check

In prostitution, it takes at least two to tango, so making sure the johns and the prostituted persons are healthy is the key to making prostitution safer for everyone. In some countries where prostitution is legal, the prostituted must undergo mandatory health checks, usually once a month. So, johns should undergo them too; they could, after all, be the person bringing a sexually transmitted disease into the mix. Repeat users might be able to negotiate a reduced rate for multiple checks. If they can’t afford monthly checks at the doctor’s office, perhaps they could go to their local Health Department or sacrifice other items in the budget like Pay-Per-View channels. In order to speed up the process of getting to buy another human being, johns should coordinate the health check-up testing with the waiting period mentioned previously because it takes a few days to get the blood results back.

Step Three: The Training

Ignorance can kill, so don’t be caught unawares. If johns are going to have sex with people they do not know and buy on a street corner or over the Internet, they should protect themselves with condoms. For instructions in proper use and handling, consult the comprehensive sex education manuals available from the local school district. These manuals also include handy tips about other must-have items for the hip john, such as dental dams. Johns will also have to learn the terminology so that they can effectively communicate what they want to buy from the prostituted person. Perhaps the Erotic Service Providers Union can create a manual for the proper care and handling of persons in prostitution.

Step Four: Obtain Permit or Licensing

If it is to be a one-time occurrence, a special permit could be issued. However, repeat buyers will be required to obtain a license. The permit would be valid for thirty days from the john’s medical approval and the license will have to be renewed every thirty days with submission of updated medical approvals. Since they’re probably surfing the Web quite a bit, perhaps johns could request that the medical check-up and license reminders are sent via e-mail so they’re never forced to seek prostituted persons on the black market (i.e., “trafficking victims” in modern parlance) because their permits are expired.

Anyone successfully completing these four steps is – congratulations! – an ABUSERS-certified john and may now feel free to move to San Francisco.

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