The three condom rule myth has finally been laid to rest by the D.C. Metropolitan Police. In a press release from The Women's Collective in Northeast, the Police Department has begun to distribute cards that will explain that citizens are allowed to carry as many condoms as they wish in the District. Demands from a local coalition of HIV/AIDS advocates prompted the department to clarify the "rule."
The card reads:
Know Your Rights
- The MPD supports the distribution of condoms to help prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Individuals are allowed to carry as many condoms as they want. There is no "three condom rule."
- MPD officers cannot conduct a stop or conduct a search of a person or premises based on whether or not that person possesses condoms.
"We often hear from community members that they believe possession of more than three condoms can be grounds for arrest," said Cyndee Clay, Executive Director of HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive), located in Northeast. "The MPD's statements put the myth of the 'three condom rule' to rest and make clear the process for reporting police officers who violate the condom possession policy."
Last July, Human Rights Watch released a report that exposed cases of harassment from the police among the Transgender community over condoms and suspected prostitution. The report included multiple accounts from sex workers who complained that they were continuously stopped, questioned and searched without resulting in arrest. The police, in most instances, questioned why the workers carried "so many condoms" and were then ordered to throw them away. There were also reports of Transgender Women being abused by police officers.
The cards that are being distributed also contain information on how to make complaints of police misconduct.
The police department now says they will not interfere with condom distribution and possession and they supports public health efforts. This clarification from the police department was made possible by the efforts of The Women's Collective, HIPS, D.C. Appleseed, D.C. Trans Coalition, AIDS United and Human Rights Watch.
Read more about HIPS and how they help prostitutes stay safe on the street, by clicking here.