The headline on this news story makes it seem like everyone involved in prostitution in Atlantic City, New Jersey and elsewhere have chosen to play a dangerous game, but for many it isn’t a game, but a trap, one that benefits pimps, Johns and other exploiters.
Selling sex on the streets of this gambling capital is a dangerous pursuit: Streetwalkers have been strangled, smothered, slashed and set ablaze. [...] Atlantic County Prosecutor Jeffrey Blitz said the Atlantic City cases were sufficiently different from the Egg Harbor deaths to make authorities believe they were carried out by different attackers. He also resists speculation that the four ditch bodies were the work of a serial killer, noting that autopsies could not determine the cause of death for two of the women. No arrests have been made in any of this year’s attacks in and near Atlantic City.
In any case, the attacks illustrate how dangerous it is for prostitutes, who are statistically 18 times more likely to be killed than other women, and 40 times more likely to die from other than natural causes, according to national studies.
These stark statistics are aided by the disdainful attitudes many people have toward those trapped in prostitution. The girls and women become something less than human. If something bad happens to them, they either brought it upon themselves or it’s no great loss.
The nation’s most notorious prostitute killings were committed in the Pacific Northwest by a single attacker who came to be known as the Green River Killer. In pleading guilty in 2003 to the murders of 48 prostitutes, Gary Leon Ridgway told a judge he targeted street walkers “because I thought I could kill as many as I wanted to without getting caught.”
Unfortunately, the view some people have of other people as a commodity contributes to people like this. Whenever someone says about a crime victim or alleged victim, “she’s just a hooker” they are robbing her of her humanity and they are revealing a lack within themselves. At its worst, this perceived lack of humanity can cause a person to rationalize committing crimes they otherwise wouldn’t commit.
It can cause teenagers to think of attacking and murdering the homeless as nothing more significant that a little fun.
Like many prostitutes in similar situations, Spazz, who said she was beaten by a “trick” two years ago, didn’t call police when it happened. Like all four hookers found dead behind the motels in Egg Harbor Township, and like 85 percent of prostitutes nationwide, Spazz has a drug problem.
I suspect that many of these women who are at the highest risk have a long history of problems that drugs keep at bay. For some it is childhood sexual abuse, for others drugs may be their only coping mechanism. Any drug treatment program that doesn’t deal with suppressed issues sets most participants up for failure.
Unfortunately, those who don’t break free of drugs and/or prostitution are usually given all the blame for ineffective programs and the cynicism of the program drop outs. If they fall victim to the ultimate preditors, too many of us are unwilling to call them innocent victims.
(crossposted at my blog, Abyss2hope)
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