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City seeks to move sex workers and their customers from area of city known as ‘The Track’

Last year, Houston, Texas, initiated an experimental effort to force sex workers and their customers out of a small area of the city known as “The Track.” The city sued 50 sex workers, as well as 23 of their customers and 13 pimps. The idea was to ban the individuals not from sex work itself, but from “prostitution-related activities.”

Those activities included sitting at a bus stop, walking on the street and using their cell phones within the half-mile-wide area along Bissonnet Street—an area heavily populated by immigrants and ethnic minorities. But according to a report by the online magazine Slate, the case is waiting to go to trial next February, and the injunction that would have heavily fined the sex workers and their customers remains “on hold.”

But sex worker rights advocates say that Harris County, where Houston is located and which filed the suit, has already endangered sex workers simply by filing the suit.

“When you make those lists public, whether it’s a mug shot or addresses, you put someone’s life in danger, but you also run the risk of having them lose a job they do have, or of harm to the small children that live with them,” one sex worker, identified only by her initials RK, told Slate. “It increases the danger not just to the sex worker, but to their families.”