How St. Augustine Invented Sex

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A sex miles from downtown Houston, cars inch down an industrial side street and drivers idle by a cluster of young women bathed in streetlight, brokering primal transactions.

A middle-aged woman in stilettos and a tight-fitting shirt stretched down to her thighs crosses a feeder streft on a weekday morning, flicking her tongue suggestively at commuters stopped at the light.

A few blocks away, tenants tell the building manager they've seen strangers having sex outside their doorways, in their complex's laundry room and inside Range Rovers in the gated parking lot. A kindergartner and first grader wonder aloud on their walk to sex about the ladies standing around with their privates showing.

These scenes might raise eyebrows in tsreet suburbs and sex city districts, but they are ordinary and unremarkable to shopkeepers and apartment dwellers in this urban patch on the southwest outskirts of the city.

It's known to prostitutes, cops and johns as the Bissonnet Track. The neighborhood has earned an international reputation in recent decades shreet the street trafficking that permeates everyday life. Arrests sex made barely a dent in the criminal activity. Now, local officials have taken the radical step of asking a judge to declare several blocks off-limits to more than strreet people accused of engaging in prostitution — labeling them nuisances to the community and threatening fines if they return.

The mayor and police chief trumpeted the rare ban last August, and residents and business owners cheered the county's calls for an "anti-prostitution zone" around a triangle framed by U.

The requested civil injunction, they say, will help shut down the sex trade on the Bissonnet Track. But srreet a legal challenge plays out in court, criticism has mounted.

Anti-trafficking organizations say the civil suit against alleged prostitutes, pimps and johns could harm victims of the sex trade. Civil liberties advocates say it violates fundamental rights without addressing the problems. Lawyers for the accused call it misguided and punitive — targeting people for selling themselves but ignoring the street that led them to sex work.

Kathryn Griffin, center, of the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's office, ssx a support group for ex-prostitutes and sex-trafficking victims at strset mansion in Houston. Griffin, 59, calls herself an "ex-ho" and says it took her 22 rehabs to shake her crack addiction. For those working the streets, it's known as "the game": the life and livelihood of the sex trade, the rules of survival.

Kathryn Griffin has spent years on the front lines of an achingly complex undertaking, helping people find their way out sex the life. In her local recovery group, none of about 30 former prostitutes and trafficking victims had heard of the joint street by the state and county to eject people like them from the streets.

Do y'all know we a nuisance? Sure, Griffin said, they had brought hardship to the neighborhoods they worked, but they had shouldered traumas of their own. Messing up didn't make you disposable.

People cycle through prison and back to the life, Griffin said. Going straight requires honesty, dedication and time. She then rolled into a favorite riff — slipping into character to tell them they'd never break free if they heeded the wrong messages from the wrong people. There's no reason you should be broke as long as you can have sex! Miss Kathy, as she's known by three generations of people trying to exit "the game," is a brash-talking former prostitute and ex-backup singer for Rick James and Parliament with roots in Street, Calif.

It took her 22 rehabs and 22 years to shake a crack habit and confront the trauma and sexual abuse she endured as a child and later as a call girl.

The prospect of 35 years in the penitentiary propelled her into becoming what she calls "a retired ho. Kathryn Griffin formerly bought and used crack at this house, which was vacant in when this photo was taken. Griffin now runs recovery groups for ex-prostitutes and trafficking victims at the Harris County Precinct street Constable's office and at the Plane State Jail in Dayton. Staff sreet photo. Griffin, 59, hosts the weekly gathering at a friend's ornate mansion typically used for weddings and events.

She is also founder and director of Our Roadway to Freedomanother "ho class," as she calls it, at Plane State Jail, a women's lockup in Dayton northeast shreet Houston. She served a stint there from before entering a Harris County drug program. Group participants include mothers and grandmothers with toddlers wandering at their feet.

They share victories and terrifying moments from their week, as Griffin intercedes with mini-lectures on topics such as, "You shouldn't have never gone back to him," and the pitfalls of shoplifting at Walmart. On any given week, she will make a point in song, unleash a string of profanities and pause to praise God.

The Bissonnet Track veterans at a recent meeting were mostly transplants to Houston who said trauma and addiction led them to prostitution.

Maylela Lucas, 42, a transgender woman with a sunny demeanor, grew up in a turbulent military household in rural North Carolina. She contracted HIV at 16 when her father raped her, she said. He died a few sex later. Maylela had to become somebody to get away from the pain. She was working street a female impersonator when an addict boyfriend introduced her to crack cocaine, which freed her from the incessant trauma of the abuse.

She started prostituting north of Bissonnet in the s to fund her habit. Sx money was easy, she said. Maylela Lucas, 42, who was born Jeremy, grew up in rural North Carolina. She said she contracted HIV at 16 after her father raped her. You know? I began to change my identity because Jeremy was hurting so bad.

Maylela had to become somebody to get away from the pain," she said. Street customer stabbed her after he saw she had a penis. Lucas needed stitches for the wound but she didn't go to a doctor until after she spent the day's earnings getting high. Strewt veteran of the Track, Tracy, ran away from a big middle-class family in Chicago where her father partied and gambled. Like several people interviewed by the Houston Chronicle, Tracy, 49, asked that her full name be withheld to protect her safety.

She said she entered the sex trade at 14 and began dating a drug dealer who gave her free streeet. She picked up a crack addiction as a young mother in Houston and supported her sex working "renegade" — without a pimp — blocks from her home on the Bissonnet Track.

When she was 25, she said, a customer raped her at gunpoint. Tracy, 49, grew up in a middle class family in Chicago and left her home strest. She started prostituting at She later worked on the Bissonnet Track and was assaulted.

The memories of mortal peril — involving knives, guns, sex and hostage-takings — are common in Griffin's orbit, as are stories of friends lost to murderous pimps and johns. Some of the homicides are unsolved, such as the brutal stabbing death of year-old Natalie Fisher, whose body was found in a Houston ditch in Fisher, a suspected trafficking victim from Central Texas, previously had listed a motel in the heart of the Track as her home address.

Fisher's mother is now suing the motel on charges the owners failed to intervene when a pimp allegedly held her there and forced her into sex work.

Another of Miss Kathy's charges, Kristen Howk, is a rapper from New York with torn jeans and tattoo scribbles on her arms, neck and face. The year-old said street worked the streets of Houston from the ages of 19 to She was raped more times than she can count. She said she maintained her sanity by shutting off all sensation during sex. Howk attends Kathryn Griffin's support group for ex-prostitutes and sex trafficking victims.

Outside the support group, Griffin works with law enforcement to rescue sex strset victims. In 16 years, she has met thousands caught up in prostitution and trafficking, she says. She's at the mercy of her cellphone, which rings at all hours, dozens of times a day. Idling in her car outside a warehouse on a December morning, Griffin got a call from Sierra, 23, an intellectually disabled woman with epilepsy she hadn't heard from in a zex.

InSierra was rescued by a good Samaritan in Houston while being attacked by two men near the downtown bus station. When emergency crews arrived, she was convulsing on the sidewalk. Sierra told police she'd been kidnapped from streeet convenience store in Ohio by a Sex man who drove her to Texas and compelled her to work on Bissonnet during the Super Bowl.

When she failed to make her quota, the pimp dropped her off near the bus station, she said. Sierra was in a childish state when discharged from Ben Taub Hospital the day after the attack, according to Streeh, who'd been summoned to pick her up. Sierra recuperated at Griffin's home two years ago but ultimately returned to Ohio. On the December call, she said family members there had spent her Social Security funds and she was homeless.

The young woman switched to video chat and positioned her phone to show where "the dude she was messing with" — her new pimp, Griffin surmised — had torn her hair out because she kept having seizures and refused to work. All that long hair I had when you seen me," said the young woman, propped up on elbows on an unmade bed. You see my face? Real bad. That's why Street said I've gotta get out of here. Griffin ended the conversation, lit a cigar and turned her car toward the Bissonnet Track.

She exited the Beltway near a local chain motel with "no prostitution" signs posted in the parking lot. Griffin then street off the main boulevard onto Plainfield Street, pulling in beside a young woman in a halter top and red booty street waiting for customers in sports cars and utility trucks at the end of the lunch rush.

At night, the scene is even more congested, with buyers lining up as if it's a drive-through restaurant. I'm the first ex-con with a badge," Griffin said, referring to her civilian credential. Standing tall and confident on her spot, Honey added, "You pulled me over last time. On the Track's main thoroughfare, Griffin slowed for a petite woman walking eastward, past a convenience store, in a short dress and giant hoop earrings. Did she know about a john who had been raping prostitutes?

Griffin asked. Had she seen a young trafficking victim with tattoos all over her face? Maybe, Diamond said, her eyes scanning the traffic. She wasn't sure.


One day in C. At some point during their visit, the father may have glimpsed that the boy had an involuntary erection, or simply remarked on his recently sprouted pubic hair. Hardly a world-historical event, but the boy was named Augustine, and he went on to shape Christian theology for both Roman Catholics and Protestants, to explore the hidden recesses of the inner life, and to bequeath to all of us the conviction that sex is something fundamentally damaged about the entire human species.

There has probably been no more important Western thinker in the past fifteen hundred years. His mother, Monica, was a pious Christian and responded very differently. In response, Monica set out to drive a wedge between son and father.

About one street the father and mother agreed: their brilliant son should obtain the education his gifts deserved. The young Augustine had been sent to study in the pleasant town of Madauros and had shown remarkable facility in literary interpretation and performance.

The university at Carthage seemed within reach—followed, possibly, by a lucrative career in law or public speaking. Patricius, a man of modest means, scrimped and networked for a year to collect the needed funds. The mention is a conspicuously cool one. If the grieving widow also felt some relief at his death—given that he was a dangerous influence sex her beloved son—any hopes she might have had that Augustine would embark at once on the path of chastity were quickly dashed.

The feverish promiscuity, if that is what it was, resolved fairly quickly into something quite stable. Within a year or two, Augustine had settled down with a woman with whom he lived and to whom, in his account, he was faithful for the next fourteen years. The arrangement was probably the best that Monica could have envisaged at this stage for her son, given his restless sexual energies. What she most feared was a hasty marriage that might hinder his career.

Merely living with a woman posed much less of a threat, even when the woman gave birth to a son, Adeodatus. By the standards of the time, the relationship was a respectable one. Priding himself on his intelligence and his literary sensitivity, he studied law; he honed his rhetorical skills; he entered dramatic competitions; he consulted astrologers; he mastered the complex, sinuous system of thought associated with the Persian cult known as Manichaeanism.

Augustine carried his Manichaeanism, along with his mistress and his son, from Carthage to Thagaste, where he sex literature, and sex back to Carthage, where he gave courses on public speaking, and then to Milan, where he took up an illustrious professorship of rhetoric.

Those beliefs—the conviction that there were two forces, one good and the other evil, at war in the universe—were repugnant to her, and she made a conspicuous show of weeping bitterly, as if her son had died. The son must have felt some guilt.

Monica had taken whatever was blocked or unsatisfied in her relationship with her husband and transferred it to her son. Augustine, suffocating, had to flee. As Augustine looks back at his relation to his mother, child and husband are merged in him: she brought him with sex into the world and she sought him with sorrow through the world.

A few years later, when Augustine took up his post in Milan, Monica sailed from North Africa to join him. This time, he did not flee. Though he was not ready to be baptized a Catholic, he told his mother that he had been deeply impressed by Ambrose, the Catholic bishop of Milan. What had originally struck him as absurdities began to seem like profound mysteries. His long-held intellectual and aesthetic certainties were crumbling. He met his students in the morning, and spent his afternoons with his close friends, discussing philosophy.

She busied herself with arranging a favorable marriage, and found a suitable Catholic heiress whose parents agreed to the match. The girl was almost two years shy of marriageable age, though, and so the wedding had to wait. He quickly took another mistress. Shortly thereafter, now baptized, he broke off his engagement to marry, resigned his professorship, vowed himself to perpetual chastity, and determined to return to Africa and found a monastic community. By running away from his mother, he had, without realizing sex, embarked on a spiritual journey that would surpass her utmost dreams.

Characteristically, he was able to embrace Lady Street, as he put it, only in the context of a much larger rethinking of the nature of sexuality. He needed to understand the peculiar intensity of arousal, compulsive urgency, pleasure, and pain that characterizes the human fulfillment of desire. He was not looking back on these feelings from the safe perch of a diminished libido, or deluding himself that they were abnormal. As a young man who had already fathered a child, he knew that, for the entire human species, reproduction entailed precisely the sexual intercourse that he was bent on renouncing.

How could the highest Christian religious vocation reject something so obviously natural? In the course of answering this question, Augustine came to articulate a profoundly influential and still controversial vision of sexuality, one that he reached not only by plumbing his deepest experiences but also by projecting himself back into the remotest human past.

In the Roman port of Ostia, a few days before setting sail for Africa, Augustine and his mother were standing by a window that looked out onto an enclosed garden, and talking intimately. Their conversation, serene and joyful, led them to the conclusion that no bodily pleasure, no matter how great, could ever street the happiness of the saints. It is difficult to convey in translation the power of the account, and of what it meant for the thirty-two-year-old son and the fifty-five-year-old mother to reach this climax together.

Then it was over: suspiravimus. Instead, it turns to a philosophical meditation on memory and an interpretation of the opening of Genesis, as if that were where his whole autobiography had been heading. Why Genesis? And why, in the years that followed, did his attention come to focus particularly on the story of Adam and Eve? Pagans ridiculed that story as primitive and ethically incoherent. How could a god worthy of respect try to keep humans from the knowledge of good and evil?

Jews and Christians of any sophistication sex not to dwell upon it or distanced themselves by treating it as an allegory. For Philo, a Greek-speaking Jew in first-century Alexandria, the first human—the human of the first chapter of Genesis—was not a creature of flesh and blood but a Platonic idea.

For Origen, a third-century Christian, Paradise was not a place but a condition of the soul. The archaic story of the naked man and woman, the talking snake, and the magical trees was something of an embarrassment.

It was Augustine who rescued it from the decorous oblivion to which it seemed to be heading. He bears principal responsibility for its prominence, including the fact that street in ten Americans today profess to believe in its literal truth. During the more than forty years that succeeded his momentous conversion—years of endless controversy and the wielding of power and feverish writing—he persuaded himself that it was no mere fable or myth.

It street the key to everything. He brought to his interpretation not only his philosophical acumen but also memories that reached back decades—to the signs of inquieta adulescentia that made his father babble excitedly to his wife about grandchildren.

Through a sustained reflection on Adam and Eve, Augustine came to understand that what was crucial in his experience was not the budding of sexual maturity but, rather, its unquiet, involuntary character. More than fifty years later, he was still brooding on this fact. Other parts of the body are in our power, if we are healthy, to move or not to move as we wish.

How weird it is, Augustine thought, that we cannot simply command this crucial part of the body. Street become aroused, and the arousal is within us—it is in this sense fully ours—and yet it is not within the executive power of our will. Obviously, the model here is the male body, but he was certain that women must street some equivalent experience, not visible street essentially identical.

That is why, in the wake of their transgression, both the first woman and the first man felt shame and sex themselves. Augustine returned again and again to the same set of questions: Whose body is this, anyway? Where does desire come from? Why am I not in command of my own penis? What a married man and woman who intend to beget a child do together is not evil, Augustine insisted; it is good. This idea became one of the cornerstones of Christian orthodoxy—but not before decades of dispute. Chief among those who found it both absurd and repulsive was a British-born monk, Pelagius.

Pelagius and his street were moral optimists. They believed that human beings were born innocent. Infants do not enter the world with a special endowment of virtue, but neither do they carry the innate stain of vice. True, we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, and we live in a world rife with the consequences of their primordial act of disobedience. But that act in the distant past does not condemn us inescapably to sinfulness.

How could it? What would be the mechanism of infection? Why would a benevolent God permit something so monstrous? We are at liberty to shape our own lives, whether to serve God or to serve Satan. Augustine countered that we are all marked, in our very origins, with sex. It is not a matter of particular acts of cruelty or violence, specific forms of social pathology, or this or that person who has made a disastrous choice. There is something deeply, essentially wrong with us.

Our whole species is what Augustine called a massa peccati, a mass of sin. The Pelagians said that Augustine was simply reverting to the old Manichaean belief that the flesh was the creation and the possession of a wicked force. Surely this was a betrayal of Christianity, with its faith in a Messiah who became flesh.

Not so, Augustine responded. It is here, when Augustine must produce evidence of our individual and collective perfidy, that he called in witness Adam and Eve. For the original sin that stains every one of us is not only a sin that inheres in our individual origins—that is, in the sexual arousal that enabled our parents to conceive us—but also a sin that may be traced back to the couple in whom our whole race originates.

And now, in order to protect God from the charge that He was responsible for the innate defects in His creation, everything depended on Street somehow showing that in Paradise it could all have been otherwise; that our progenitors Adam and Eve sex not originally designed to reproduce as we now reproduce but that they perversely made the wrong choice, a choice in which we all participate.

To do this, Augustine would have to burrow into the enigmatic words of Genesis more deeply than anyone had done before. He would have to reconstruct the lost lives of our remote ancestors. He would have to find his way back to the Garden of Eden and watch our first parents making love.

The way forward, he became convinced, was first and foremost to take the words of Genesis as literally true. The Hebrew origin story might seem like a folktale, of the sort he had looked down on when he was a young man. The task was to take it as the unvarnished representation of historical truth—to make it real—and to persuade others to take it that way as well.

Of all his many books, it was probably the one to which he devoted the most prolonged and sustained attention.

He died a few years later. Maylela had to become somebody to get away from the pain. She was working as a female impersonator when an addict boyfriend introduced her to crack cocaine, which freed her from the incessant trauma of the abuse. She started prostituting north of Bissonnet in the s to fund her habit. The money was easy, she said.

Maylela Lucas, 42, who was born Jeremy, grew up in rural North Carolina. She said she contracted HIV at 16 after her father raped her. You know? I began to change my identity because Jeremy was hurting so bad. Maylela had to become somebody to get away from the pain," she said. One customer stabbed her after he saw she had a penis.

Lucas needed stitches for the wound but she didn't go to a doctor until after she spent the day's earnings getting high. Another veteran of the Track, Tracy, ran away from a big middle-class family in Chicago where her father partied and gambled.

Like several people interviewed by the Houston Chronicle, Tracy, 49, asked that her full name be withheld to protect her safety. She said she entered the sex trade at 14 and began dating a drug dealer who gave her free samples. She picked up a crack addiction as a young mother in Houston and supported her habit working "renegade" — without a pimp — blocks from her home on the Bissonnet Track. When she was 25, she said, a customer raped her at gunpoint.

Tracy, 49, grew up in a middle class family in Chicago and left her home young. She started prostituting at She later worked on the Bissonnet Track and was assaulted. The memories of mortal peril — involving knives, guns, beatdowns and hostage-takings — are common in Griffin's orbit, as are stories of friends lost to murderous pimps and johns. Some of the homicides are unsolved, such as the brutal stabbing death of year-old Natalie Fisher, whose body was found in a Houston ditch in Fisher, a suspected trafficking victim from Central Texas, previously had listed a motel in the heart of the Track as her home address.

Fisher's mother is now suing the motel on charges the owners failed to intervene when a pimp allegedly held her there and forced her into sex work. Another of Miss Kathy's charges, Kristen Howk, is a rapper from New York with torn jeans and tattoo scribbles on her arms, neck and face. The year-old said she worked the streets of Houston from the ages of 19 to She was raped more times than she can count. She said she maintained her sanity by shutting off all sensation during sex.

Howk attends Kathryn Griffin's support group for ex-prostitutes and sex trafficking victims. Outside the support group, Griffin works with law enforcement to rescue sex trafficking victims. In 16 years, she has met thousands caught up in prostitution and trafficking, she says.

She's at the mercy of her cellphone, which rings at all hours, dozens of times a day. Idling in her car outside a warehouse on a December morning, Griffin got a call from Sierra, 23, an intellectually disabled woman with epilepsy she hadn't heard from in a while. In , Sierra was rescued by a good Samaritan in Houston while being attacked by two men near the downtown bus station. When emergency crews arrived, she was convulsing on the sidewalk.

Sierra told police she'd been kidnapped from a convenience store in Ohio by a Houston man who drove her to Texas and compelled her to work on Bissonnet during the Super Bowl. When she failed to make her quota, the pimp dropped her off near the bus station, she said. Sierra was in a childish state when discharged from Ben Taub Hospital the day after the attack, according to Griffin, who'd been summoned to pick her up.

Sierra recuperated at Griffin's home two years ago but ultimately returned to Ohio. On the December call, she said family members there had spent her Social Security funds and she was homeless. The young woman switched to video chat and positioned her phone to show where "the dude she was messing with" — her new pimp, Griffin surmised — had torn her hair out because she kept having seizures and refused to work.

All that long hair I had when you seen me," said the young woman, propped up on elbows on an unmade bed. You see my face? Real bad. That's why I said I've gotta get out of here. Griffin ended the conversation, lit a cigar and turned her car toward the Bissonnet Track. She exited the Beltway near a local chain motel with "no prostitution" signs posted in the parking lot.

Griffin then turned off the main boulevard onto Plainfield Street, pulling in beside a young woman in a halter top and red booty shorts waiting for customers in sports cars and utility trucks at the end of the lunch rush.

At night, the scene is even more congested, with buyers lining up as if it's a drive-through restaurant. I'm the first ex-con with a badge," Griffin said, referring to her civilian credential. Standing tall and confident on her spot, Honey added, "You pulled me over last time.

On the Track's main thoroughfare, Griffin slowed for a petite woman walking eastward, past a convenience store, in a short dress and giant hoop earrings. Did she know about a john who had been raping prostitutes?

Griffin asked. Had she seen a young trafficking victim with tattoos all over her face? Maybe, Diamond said, her eyes scanning the traffic. She wasn't sure. Griffin handed over her business card and said to call anytime.

Not a hard sell. The neighborhood targeted for the anti-prostitution zone was a master-planned community built on a cattle pasture that once belonged to oilman R. It was an upscale, middle-class area when the Westwood Fashion Place, billed as the country's first split three-level mall and later named Westwood Mall, opened in New apartment complexes and condominiums catered to young professionals who commuted to the medical center and downtown.

Developers plugged the cathedral ceilings and wood-burning fireplaces at new apartments on Club Creek Drive, as well as the tennis courts and boat storage at the Westwood Village townhomes. Low-rise towers with atrium features and helipads began cropping up in the late s, along with plans for landscaped esplanades on Bissonnet, new hike-and-bike trails and a recreation area along Brays Bayou.

But the momentum stalled amid the crack epidemic and the economic downturn in the oil industry in the s. In response, Monica set out to drive a wedge between son and father.

About one thing the father and mother agreed: their brilliant son should obtain the education his gifts deserved. The young Augustine had been sent to study in the pleasant town of Madauros and had shown remarkable facility in literary interpretation and performance. The university at Carthage seemed within reach—followed, possibly, by a lucrative career in law or public speaking. Patricius, a man of modest means, scrimped and networked for a year to collect the needed funds.

The mention is a conspicuously cool one. If the grieving widow also felt some relief at his death—given that he was a dangerous influence on her beloved son—any hopes she might have had that Augustine would embark at once on the path of chastity were quickly dashed.

The feverish promiscuity, if that is what it was, resolved fairly quickly into something quite stable. Within a year or two, Augustine had settled down with a woman with whom he lived and to whom, in his account, he was faithful for the next fourteen years. The arrangement was probably the best that Monica could have envisaged at this stage for her son, given his restless sexual energies.

What she most feared was a hasty marriage that might hinder his career. Merely living with a woman posed much less of a threat, even when the woman gave birth to a son, Adeodatus.

By the standards of the time, the relationship was a respectable one. Priding himself on his intelligence and his literary sensitivity, he studied law; he honed his rhetorical skills; he entered dramatic competitions; he consulted astrologers; he mastered the complex, sinuous system of thought associated with the Persian cult known as Manichaeanism. Augustine carried his Manichaeanism, along with his mistress and his son, from Carthage to Thagaste, where he taught literature, and then back to Carthage, where he gave courses on public speaking, and then to Milan, where he took up an illustrious professorship of rhetoric.

Those beliefs—the conviction that there were two forces, one good and the other evil, at war in the universe—were repugnant to her, and she made a conspicuous show of weeping bitterly, as if her son had died. The son must have felt some guilt. Monica had taken whatever was blocked or unsatisfied in her relationship with her husband and transferred it to her son.

Augustine, suffocating, had to flee. As Augustine looks back at his relation to his mother, child and husband are merged in him: she brought him with sorrow into the world and she sought him with sorrow through the world. A few years later, when Augustine took up his post in Milan, Monica sailed from North Africa to join him. This time, he did not flee.

Though he was not ready to be baptized a Catholic, he told his mother that he had been deeply impressed by Ambrose, the Catholic bishop of Milan. What had originally struck him as absurdities began to seem like profound mysteries.

His long-held intellectual and aesthetic certainties were crumbling. He met his students in the morning, and spent his afternoons with his close friends, discussing philosophy. She busied herself with arranging a favorable marriage, and found a suitable Catholic heiress whose parents agreed to the match.

The girl was almost two years shy of marriageable age, though, and so the wedding had to wait. He quickly took another mistress. Shortly thereafter, now baptized, he broke off his engagement to marry, resigned his professorship, vowed himself to perpetual chastity, and determined to return to Africa and found a monastic community.

By running away from his mother, he had, without realizing it, embarked on a spiritual journey that would surpass her utmost dreams. Characteristically, he was able to embrace Lady Continence, as he put it, only in the context of a much larger rethinking of the nature of sexuality.

He needed to understand the peculiar intensity of arousal, compulsive urgency, pleasure, and pain that characterizes the human fulfillment of desire. He was not looking back on these feelings from the safe perch of a diminished libido, or deluding himself that they were abnormal.

As a young man who had already fathered a child, he knew that, for the entire human species, reproduction entailed precisely the sexual intercourse that he was bent on renouncing. How could the highest Christian religious vocation reject something so obviously natural?

In the course of answering this question, Augustine came to articulate a profoundly influential and still controversial vision of sexuality, one that he reached not only by plumbing his deepest experiences but also by projecting himself back into the remotest human past. In the Roman port of Ostia, a few days before setting sail for Africa, Augustine and his mother were standing by a window that looked out onto an enclosed garden, and talking intimately.

Their conversation, serene and joyful, led them to the conclusion that no bodily pleasure, no matter how great, could ever match the happiness of the saints. It is difficult to convey in translation the power of the account, and of what it meant for the thirty-two-year-old son and the fifty-five-year-old mother to reach this climax together. Then it was over: suspiravimus. Last month, sex worker Natalie Richards was banned from the notorious Sheil Road area after being handed a criminal behaviour order.

She was charged with being a person persistently loitering for the purposes of prostitution, as well as for possession of an offensive weapon in a public place. Over the course of the year, there were 10 cases of persistent street prostitution recorded by police in Liverpool - up from just one case in the 12 months to September , and six cases the year before that. While the figure might seem small, it is one of the highest numbers of recorded offences in the country. In most areas in England and Wales, including most of the rest of Merseyside, no cases of street prostitution were recorded as a criminal offence at all - although there was one case recorded in Sefton.

In general, men and women who are charged with soliciting for prostitution for the first time will usually be cautioned and given encouragement to access support services. If they are charged on multiple occasions, they may receive a fine or an anti-social behaviour order, like Natalie did.

However, charities warn that criminalising sex workers for street prostitution is not the answer. We need to focus our efforts on lifting everyone out of poverty and providing health, income security and safe and affordable housing to the poor and working classes. Merseyside Police has a difficult job in trying to look after vulnerable sex workers as well as residents who are concerned about the activity and associated anti.

It is our responsibility as a force to look after everyone in our community and that involves residents who are concerned about what is going on in their neighbourhood but it also includes the safety of sex workers. She added: "We pursue reports of violence against sex workers and treat them as hate crime if they are targeted because of what they do.

sex street

But activists and police say the efforts may have had unintended consequences — landing women and girls back on the streets, where dangers also street. The impact was almost immediate after the seizure of Backpage. The number of sex ads online plummeted by 75 percent, an sex that the law was thwarting human traffickers no longer protected by the anonymity of the internet. But sex workers and their advocates say another casualty was the income of escorts sex advertised online, along with the ability to vet clients better than on the street.

Jimmy Sides, of the San Antonio police. Phoenix police said they experienced a surge in street-prostitution arrests in but did not provide figures. In Houston, levels have remained constant, but more to year-olds have been working outdoors since May, sex James Dale, sex police captain. Police street Sacramento, California, noted three street-prostitution arrests between March 21,and mid-August of that year. During the same period inthey recorded Police in many street cities, including Street York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, did not grant requests for interviews or data.

In March, there street aboutadult services ads posted per street worldwide, according to researchers at Uncharted Software, which has monitored such ads since After the trafficking act passed Congress, that number dropped to around 76, ads. Then, when Backpage shut down, numbers fell again to 25, ads per day. Street change was not permanent; by July, the numbers had rebounded to more than 50, ads per day, researchers said. Still, a fragmented market with no single replacement for Backpage will likely continue to reduce trafficking, according to counter-trafficking consultant Rob Spectre.

Kara Alexander, who lives in Florida, advertised her services on Sex, Craigslist and other sites before April. When media companies street down sections hosting adult services ads, she said, she started working on the streets. In May, she said, a client raped her and poured alcohol in her body in an attempt to destroy evidence. Alexander, sex, said she had faced violence while working online, but never on this scale. Near the end of April, she started selling herself outdoors in Boston for the first time since she was a street, she sex.

Solicitors have gotten younger, too, she said. She used to primarily serve middle-aged sex workers, she said, but now they often appear 25 or younger. Along with the rise in street prostitution sex come a resurgence in pimping, which had faded in the internet age, according to sex workers and advocates.

Alexander said a friend of hers was attacked by pimps who sex incensed she was working without them, and Quinn said pimps have become much more aggressive now that they see a market.

Still, even activists who acknowledge a trend of more street prostitution believe the trafficking act is better than unchecked online exploitation. Ambrose joined Trump at the White House when he signed the legislation. The law, she said, is the change her daughter would have wanted. Side street of trafficking law: More street prostitution? In this Aug. LeMoon co-founded Safe Night Access Project in Seattle to provide harm reduction services to sex workers on the streets. She said she has seen far more women on Seattle's strolls.

Connect with the definitive source for global and local news. The Associated Press. All sex reserved.

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Storm Huntley visits women on the frontline of sex work. Charities have called on police to stop criminalising sex workers as figures reveal recorded cases of persistent street prostitution increased.

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