The Big Easy gets easier

Prostitution on the rise in the Crescent City post-Katrina.

Published October 10, 2006 9:18PM (EDT)

There was a story in Sunday's Times-Picayune about a massive spike in prostitution in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Apparently, the number of relief workers and contractors currently staying in the city without their families has meant a high demand for sex for sale. And just like what happens during political conventions or major sporting events, the population of sex workers has grown to accommodate the, er, bulge in the market.

As the Times-Picayune reported: "It's 'like the Super Bowl' for sex workers, said Deputy Chief James Scott, commander of the Police Department's Intelligence Division, from his division's headquarters in a trailer." Of course, the fact that divisions of the NOLA police department are quartered in trailers is related to the sheer number of sex workers suddenly visible on the city's streets. In the devastation after the hurricane, there is so little room in the city's jails that many prostitutes who would otherwise be kept in prison overnight are being handed summonses or being released back onto the streets within a few hours.

Other bad news includes the paper's report that sex traffickers are taking advantage of the boom, bringing in women from other countries and using them as sex slaves. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced a $450,000 grant to try to stop this trade during a visit to the Big Easy last week.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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