NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Photo : REUTERS)
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill Friday, June 22 that strengthens the penalties imposed on cab drivers who are caught knowingly transporting prostitutes. The bill imposes a $10,000 fine on drivers who are convicted of a felony related to sex trafficking. Convicted cabbies would also lose their Taxi and Limousine Commisssion licenses.
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The bill is intended to prevent cabbies from driving prostitutes to johns.
Several young women dressed in tight, revealing clothes rallied outside City Hall on Thursday against the bill. They argued that the bill may make cabbies afraid to pick up young women who might appear to be prostitutes - when, in fact, they are only dressed for a night on the town.
"They don't even know who is a prostitute or not," Diana Estrada told NBC New York. Estrada said she wears shorts or miniskirts to her bartender job.
Bloomberg ackowledgeded that the bill puts cabbies and provocatively-dressed women in a difficult position. But the awkward nature of his comment proves that Bloomberg - like any man - cannot truly understand a young woman's perspective on this bill or on their decision to wear certain types of clothing out.
"If I were a young lady and I dressed in a sporty way ... and there's nothing wrong with that ... I would not want someone thinking that I'm a prostitute," Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.
However, Laurel W Eisner, executive director of Sanctuary for Families - a victims advocacy group that backed the bill - told Gothamist that the bill would not discriminate against women dressed in risque clothing.
"The law will not discourage drivers from picking up "sex workers" or women dressed in any particular way," Eisner said. "The law will discourage drivers from engaging in crimes involving sex trafficking, which entail actively participating in and profiting from coerced prostitution."