NEW ORLEANS- Attorneys representing three exotic dancers are fighting the state's push to raise the stripper age requirement from 18 to 21.
The 45-page document begins by saying the state's law was rushed, referring to the approval of the bill last year.
The attorneys noted the state only devoted 30 minutes of floor time to the bill last year, spending most of the time making "jokes" about the proposed law.
The attorneys argue that the state has not proven that the law is constitutional and say it prevents women from expressing themselves freely.
"The passage of the law wasn't exactly rushed," Representative Julie Stokes said. "This had been a well thought out, bill that was to be introduced in the Senate. And then when it got to the House, there were definitely some shenanigans. This was brought up by a very strong group of advocates against human trafficking."
Representative Stokes also believes the law is justified.
"As far as the constitutionality, I mean, we restrict the age at which you can have a beer. We restrict the age at which you can buy a lottery ticket. We even have restrictions on the age of tanning. So, I think that certainly to engage in this type of activity seems appropriate to me to protect our young women," Stokes said.
Sheri Lockridge is a human trafficking case worker at Covenant House in New Orleans. She said she has seen a large number of human trafficking victims under her car who have stripped in the past.
"Over 40 percent of them worked in strip clubs. Many of them under 21. Many of them under 18.
From Sheri Lockridge's perspective, the problem goes far beyond legal concerns. Exotic dancers have been victims of crime. Back in 2012, Jaren Lockhart, a dancer on Bourbon Street was killed and eventually dismembered.
"It's a matter of protecting vulnerable young women and men that dance in these clubs. It's a matter of preventing the damage that they go through. The terrible trauma that they go through. It's definitely saving their lives," Lockridge said.
The city of New Orleans already has a law requiring strippers to be 21 years old.
There's no word on when we could likely see this lawsuit be heard in federal court.
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