Houston Lawmakers Approve Strip Club Tax, Money Will Fund Rape Kit Analysis

Officials in the city of Houston are planning to charge a $5-per-visit tax to strip club attendees, money that will be used to fund rape investigations throughout the city.

Money collected will specifically be used to perform biological analysis of evidence collected from rape victims, hopefully allowing more attackers to be identified and arrested.

The plan came about after Houston ran out of money while attempting to analyze nearly 6,000 rape kits that sat unfulfilled in citywide storage units.

The measure passed with a 14-1 vote after lawmakers argued that strip clubs foster an unhealthy view towards women and therefore lead to many of the sexual assaults in the area.

It isn’t just strip clubs that will be forced to pay the tax, clubs that provide “occasional” adult entertainment such as wet T-shirt contests or naked sushi contests would also be responsible for collecting a cover charge.

As of right now there are 30 adult entertainment clubs in the city that will be subject to the tax.

Critics of the law say there is no proof that strip clubs promote violence against women. Albert Van Huff, a Houston lawyer who represents local strip clubs told the Wall Street Journal:

“There is no known correlation between people going to nice, high-end gentlemen’s clubs and rape.”

His words are matched by a 2009 report from the University of Texas at Austin in which researchers found that no study has “authoritatively linked alcohol, sexually oriented businesses, and the perpetration of violence.”

Police in Houston do note that some of the 6,000 kits that are tested will simply not yield results become the victims have moved on and decided not to press charges.

Houston isn’t alone in its fight, Texas in 2007 passed a law that charges customers $5 as part of a “pole tax” which has raised $15.7 million in revenue, money also set aside for the single purpose of rape kit testing.

In my state of Illinois a similar bill just recently passed for $3 per visit (originally $5), that bill along with several others around the United States has generated a further discussion about the toll strip clubs take on victims of rape. In the meantime it is likely we will see more research being conducted to prove the necessity of the strip club taxes as state and federal lawmakers grapple with making money ventures while trying to determine the mindset these clubs possibly help to perpetuate.