NEW ORLEANS -- In their neighborhoods, they are sometimes taunted with dirty looks and jeers. Their pictures hang on the walls of local community centers where their children and grandchildren play. And their names and addresses are listed in newspapers and mailed out on postcards to everyone in the neighborhood.
Landing a job or even finding a landlord willing to give them a place to stay is a challenge.
These women wear a scarlet letter -- rather, 11 letters -- spelled out on their driver's licenses in bright orange text: SEX OFFENDER.
They aren't child molesters or pedophiles. Most are poor, hard-luck black women in New Orleans who agreed to exchange oral or anal sex for money. In doing so they violated the latest version of Louisiana's 206-year-old Crime Against Nature law, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and registration as a sex offender.
Opponents of the law say it is discriminatory and targets poor women and the gay and transgendered community who engage in what they call "survival sex." In March, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of nine anonymous plaintiffs against the state, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and a host of state agencies, calling the law unconstitutional.
"There are a number of absurd things in the Louisiana laws, and this is one of the more absurd," said R. Judson Mitchell, a law professor at the law clinic at Loyola University in New Orleans. "There are crimes against nature happening at strip clubs on Bourbon Street every single night. The difference is we are dealing with women that didn't have a fancy strip club to go to."
Indeed, New Orleans has long been a historic bastion of sex and vice, synonymous with food, jazz and the lore of Storyville, the fabled red-light district that clinched the city's reputation for high-class prostitution more than a century ago. Any night along the city's seamy side streets and in hotels that dot the French Quarter, tourists and locals pay for a variety of sexual pleasures.
Read more at The Huffington Post.