As it stands, cops who suspect someone of prostitution must actually prove it before arresting them. But that’s a lot of work. So Eau Claire, Wisconsin, officials have a new plan: make non-sexual commercial companionship illegal without the proper paperwork.
To this end, the Eau Claire City Council is considering an ordinance that would require anyone advertising as an escort to get an occupational license from the government.
The term “escort” is a broad and vague one, of course. Escorts may accompany their clients to events or join them for other forms of non-sexual companionship, and this is perfectly legal. Yet most of the time, escorting is a euphemism for some sort of sex work. And when you add sexual services into this equation, the activity then becomes a crime.
But because being an escort does not necessarily mean one is engaged in prostitution, police can’t just go around arresting anyone who advertises as an escort. Not yet, anyway. Ostensibly, cops must still interact with the individual and get them to agree to some sort of sexual activity for a fee. As Eau Claire Assistant City Attorney Douglas Hoffer put it, police are forced to do “intensive investigations” and get their targets to use “explicit language” in order to make charges stick.