Hey Long Island District Attorney: Sex workers don’t deserve to be murdered

Screen shot of news article with headline Scarborough Mother's Murder 'Direct Result

Actually, no one does, regardless of their work.

Tell that to the Long Island District Attorney’s office, who just released a statement about the four bodies that were found in sand dunes in Long Island last week.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota says Waterman’s work as a prostitute led to her death. “We believe that each of the four victims met their pre-arranged client or clients shortly before their deaths and that their deaths are a direct result of their business as prostitutes,” said Spota.

Actually, District Attorney Spota, their deaths are a direct result of being murdered.

The fact that these women were likely targeted because they were sex workers should bring awareness to the violence that sex workers face, and the lack of protections available to them.

Instead, this language implies that it was their fault, and that if they simply weren’t working in the sex industry they would have been fine. Unacceptable. It just perpetuates the idea that sex workers don’t deserve to be protected simply because they are sex workers.

Imagine if the headline were about date rape, and the statement instead said “Woman’s rape is a direct result of her revealing outfit.”

For more about combating violence against sex workers check out this piece in On the Issues.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Or if people were murdered in a bank robbery, and the statement was “their deaths are a direct result of their business as bank tellers”.

    • Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Exactly. I’m sitting here in an office right now. If a disgruntled former employee of my company comes in, pissed off about a pension or something, and shoots up the place, is my death a “direct result” of being an office worker? Or what about my boss – since he’s the one who set the pensions, is his death a “direct result” of being a boss?

  2. Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    “Woman’s rape is a direct result of her revealing outfit” is unfortunately, not a headline I would be too terribly surprised to see. Outraged, yes, but surprised, no. The language of the headline is reprehensible in both cases… but I think both the example and the actual headline are two manifestations of the same thing running rampant in our society: the devaluing of women for any reason we can find, and the blaming of them for their assaults and/or murder.

  3. Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    their deaths are a direct result of their business as prostitutes

    I don’t find that any more offensive than a headline reading “Officer killed in the line of duty” or “Tunnel Collapses, miners killed”

    Solicitation, one type of sex work, is a very high risk profession, and while legal brothels would provide safe venues for some sex workers to practice their trades, it would not protect “independent operators”, who are often the most vulnerable, from meeting anonymous clients at “seedy” locations.

  4. Posted January 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    It troubles me deeply to hear one of the people who is supposed to be giving a voice to the victims engage in victim blaming. I just hope that he meant that to say that their deaths are connected and that the killer was targeting sex-workers. Hope.

  5. Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    It is true that some of these people, such as Rifkin or the Green River Killer target sex workers. Rifkin in a recent interview, told the Daily News he targeted them because he figured “they had no families and it would be months before anyone came looking for them.”

    But then again, you have serial killers like Otis O’Toole & Henry Lee Lucas or Albert Fish who’s primary targets were young boys. Did anyone ever ever say their victim’s deaths were the result of them being underage children? Ted Bundy primarily targeted college coeds. Was this a “direct result” of them seeking a higher education?

    I think the fact that this Long Island killer targets prostitutes is probably important to the people in forensics and profiling, but Spota’s wording was poor and will probably be taken the wrong way by a lot of people looking to cast moral opinions on sex workers, but not necessarily serial killers themselves.

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