Winona County Clean Hotel Resolution and Policy
Winona County Passes Clean Hotel Policy – First in the State
The Winona County Board of Commissioners passed a clean hotel resolution and travel policy on Tuesday September 7th which provides reimbursement for county employees only when staying in hotels that do not offer adult pay per view pornography. Copies of the Winona County policy and resolution can be found on the MN Men's Action Network: Alliance to Prevent Sexual and Domestic Violence website. (Click the button on the left)
The Winona County resolution emphasizes that the “policy intent to reduce and eliminate business relations with businesses that provide in-room adult pay-per-view pornography shall extend to all Winona County purchases and not be limited to reimbursements”. The resolution continues “that all organizations and entities of which Winona County, its agents or employees, are members shall contact those organizations and entities that continue to host events at businesses that provide in-room adult pay-per-view services including, but not limited to, the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) and request that future events be scheduled at businesses that do not offer said services.”
This language articulates the Winona County Boards understanding of how interrelated our business activities are across the state and how pornography use has become an increasingly accepted part of business practices and daily life, thereby contributing to the social acceptance of this often sexually degrading and violent material. As their issue paper states, “Over thirty years of research has established distinct corollaries between pornography consumption and increased risk for sexual and domestic violence perpetration, as well as increased social acceptance of these crimes… The Winona County departments of Community Health, Human Services, and the Sheriff’s Department including patrol, dispatch, records, and jail all respond to and deal with the immediate and long-term impacts of sexual and domestic violence. County tax dollars are used to support these departments and their efforts. It is logical to assume that prevention of certain criminal activities would reduce the costs of providing these services. Prevention would also prevent the much greater social cost to the community”.
This is the first such resolution of its kind in Minnesota and, to our knowledge, the country. It is part of a broader state and national effort to employ a public health model which focuses on changing the environment in which so much sexual and domestic violence is occurring.
This policy was initiated locally by the Winona County Sexual and Domestic Violence Primary Prevention Project. A community collaboration initiated in 2008 with the help of Joe Morse from Beyond Tough Guise, a local community group focused on engaging men and male youth in efforts to end violence against women and girls, and Lynn Theurer, the then director of the Winona County Community Health Services. Initial partners in the collaboration included the Winona Women’s Resource Center and Big Brother and Big Sisters of Winona. The clean hotels policy initiative was presented to Winona County Administrator Duane Herbert in the spring of 2010 for his thoughts and leadership in moving the policy forward. The MN Men’s Action Network has been providing technical assistance to the Winona County Primary Prevention Project and Beyond Tough Guise to assist in their collaborative development.
The Winona County efforts utilized the MN Clean Hotel initiative developed by the MN Department of Health, Sexual Violence Prevention Program and the MN Men's Action Network to further their policy development.
The Women's Foundation of Minnesota released a report on the status of women and girls in MN in June 2010 in which they report 1 in 3 Minnesota women will be the victims of sexual and/or domestic violence in their lifetimes. Research has established distinct corollaries between the production and consumption of pornography and sexual and domestic violence. This clean hotel policy begins a public acknowledgment of this harm and provides us an opportunity to support those establishments which contribute to a social environment where respect, safety, and gender equality is the accepted and experienced norm.
In the spirit of the Winona County Resolution, we encourage readers to contact their state and local officials asking them to adopt similar policies. In this way, we begin a process of public and private divestiture in the pornography industry.
Specifically we ask you to contact the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) board of directors encouraging them to accept the Winona County Board request to adopt a clean hotel travel and procurement policy for their organization.
If the AMC board adopts such a policy, it will be much easier for subsequent counties, and other municipalities, to do the same, including the MN legislature.