New Orleans city police and the district attorney's office are using a state law written for child molesters to charge hundreds of sex workers as sex offenders. The law, which dates back to 1805, makes it a crime against nature to engage in "unnatural copulation" -- a term New Orleans cops and the district attorney's office have interpreted to mean anal or oral sex. Sex workers convicted of breaking this law are charged with felonies, issued longer jail sentences and forced to register as sex offenders. They must also carry a driver's license with the label "sex offender" printed on it.
Of the 861 sex offenders currently registered in New Orleans, 483 were convicted of a crime against nature, and of those, 78 percent are black and almost all are women.
Tabitha has to register an address in the sex offender database. She also has to purchase and mail postcards with her picture to everyone in the neighborhood informing them of her conviction. If she needs to evacuate to a shelter during a hurricane, she must evacuate to a special shelter for sex offenders, and this shelter has no separate safe spaces for women. She is even prohibited from very ordinary activities in New Orleans like wearing a costume at Mardi Gras.
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