City slammed for deal with topless clubs

Anti sex trafficking groups protest Houston's settlement with strip clubs that loosen the rules around dancers
December 18, 2013 4:27:47 PM PST
The mayor is taking heat from groups against human trafficking after the city's recent agreement with sexually oriented businesses. As part of the deal, strip clubs will essentially be paying for a new HPD unit to combat the problem. For some, that's not enough.

You can find more than 300 sexually oriented business within Houston city limits. It's one of the reasons anti sex trafficking groups says current laws aren't working.

"We're really challenging the city of Houston and mayor's office to come together with us as an organization and try to figure out a better solution," said Bob Sanborn with Children at Risk.

Anti-sex trafficking groups slammed the city's new policies on strip clubs. Last month, the mayor reached a legal settlement with 16 of the city's largest and most popular clubs. The city agreed to allow dancers to be fully topless, and to stop enforcing a three foot rule between customers and dancers. In exchange, the clubs agreed to get rid of private rooms and to collectively contribute more than $1 million a year to fund a new police task force on trafficking.

"We do not see how this measure is going to add a preventative step to protect the minor children here in Houston," said Emily Waters with Freedom Place.

"Now I can reassign resources to the problem clubs, because we have reached a resolution with these clubs," explained Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

The mayor's office reached the settlement without a council or public vote. These anti-trafficking groups say they wish they had been consulted.

"It's not subject to a vote of council, so they can keep talking about it but nothing is going to change," Mayor Parker said.

The anti-trafficking groups say they don't have the money or the organization to pursue any legal action against the city, but they say they will continue to raise awareness about the dangers of human trafficking.

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