Legal Brothels

Bree Zender

A federal lawsuit was filed earlier this year by an anti-legal brothel lawyer, claiming sex trafficking is rampant in the businesses. While brothel owners deny this, the suit aims to ban brothels in Nevada. Now, a prospective defendant is looking to add himself to the suit. KUNR Reporter and Host Bree Zender spoke with News Director Michelle Billman about this latest wrinkle.

The cribs of the Stockade brothel
Courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society

The fact that prostitution is legal in some parts of Nevada remains a source of controversy both inside and outside the state. Although it’s not allowed in Washoe County today, the city of Reno has been more permissive in the past.

Michelle Billman

A former sex worker filed a federal lawsuit this week against the state of Nevada, saying that she was trafficked through the state’s legal brothel system. Her pro-bono lawyer, Jason Guinasso, alleges that recruiting workers and clients to go to Nevada brothels is in direct violation with the federal Mann Act, which makes it a felony to transport people over state lines for "any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense.” 

Bree Zender

When you think of brothels, lots of ideas may come up. Some may be based on personal experiences, while others are based on stereotypes. A new book from University of Nevada, Reno researchers aims to look at how stigmas surrounding sex work affect the workers themselves. 

Bree Zender

Next month, Lyon County voters will be posed with a ballot question: Should sex work be legal?

Ultimately, the county commissioners will have the final word. Critics say that legal sex work is unethical. They specifically mention what are called “lineups”--where the sex workers present themselves to prospective clients, calling the practice demeaning to women. Brothel owners disagree, saying it’s empowering. KUNR’s Bree Zender wanted to know how the sex workers themselves feel about it.

Bree Zender

Dennis Hof died earlier this week. He owned all of the brothels in Lyon County. Despite his death, a question will remain on the ballot asking Lyon County voters whether or not to ban prostitution. KUNR’s Bree Zender examines both sides of this debate.