The 'Pole Tax': Strip-Club Tax Funds Rape Investigations in Houston

The 'Pole Tax': Strip-Club Tax Funds Rape Investigations in Houston

The city of Houston is cashing in on the so-called “pole tax” as of Wednesday and plans to put the tax revenue to good use.

The “pole tax”—not to be confused with the "poll tax"—is a tax on adult nightlife venues like strip clubs. And in Houston, the “pole tax” will come in the form of a $5 door charge for anyone who visits one of these establishments.

The purpose of the “pole tax"? It may surprise you: Houston’s City Council will use the cash generated by the “pole tax” to examine cases of rape.


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According to The Wall Street Journal, Houston police have approximately 6,000 submitted rape kits in their possession that must be tested. And testing rape kits is an expensive undertaking—it costs $1,100 to test a single kit.

Before the tax was instituted, the city did not have the resources to analyze the remaining 6,000 kits. The City Council expects to rake in $3 million in the first year, making it possible to perform the tests in a timely fashion. Ellen Cohen, a member of Houston’s City Council, reminds us in an interview with ABC News: “The indignity of a rape kit is not ten minutes behind a screen; it’s a long, laborious, embarrassing procedure.”

While many believe that the link between strip clubs and rape is unfounded, The Wall Street Journal perceives this link as a symbolic one: Strip clubs “cultivate unhealthy attitudes towards women that can lead to sexual assaults.”

This tax calls our attention once again to the difficulties involved with rape prosecution and the importance of rape education. So what do you think: Is this the right use for money from the "pole tax"?


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