The women I killed were filth-bastard prostitutes who were littering the streets. I was just cleaning up the place a bit. - Peter Sutcliffe (The Yorkshire Ripper)
Today is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, which was first established in 2003 by Dr. Annie Sprinkle (in conjunction with Robyn Few, Stacy Swimme and Michael Fowley of SWOP) as a memorial for the victims of serial killer Gary Ridgeway on the eve of his sentencing. In the ensuing eight years the observance has grown dramatically, with events and vigils in many cities around the world, all intended to call attention to the violence committed against whores by sociopaths, bad customers and especially the police…violence which is largely engendered and enabled by criminalization and the marginalization which grows from it. In recent years, some of the worst and most widespread violence against us has sprung from sex trafficking hysteria; the propaganda which drives this moral panic paints all prostitutes as pathetic, childlike victims suffering from mental illnesses which render us unable to make decisions for ourselves, thus justifying our abduction, imprisonment, deportation, robbery and rape. And though the actual violence is most often perpetrated on us by men, many of the chief enablers of the outrage are women: namely, the neofeminist prohibitionists who use us as scapegoats onto which they can project their own sick fantasies of gender war.
One year ago today I wrote about the origins of both the day and of the red umbrella, which has become the most widely-used symbol of sex worker rights; I urge those readers who are not already familiar with the Day To End Violence to go back and read it. In that column I reported the first news of the serial murderer now known as the Long Island Killer, whom police have recently decided is only one man after all after a few months of claiming it was more than one (possibly in an attempt to spread panic or to call attention away from the fact that the murderer is very likely a cop). Even though I do recognize that finding a single psychopath in New York must be a difficult task, I can’t help thinking that the police aren’t exactly trying very hard, especially since there are No Humans Involved and the District Attorney says it was the victims’ fault for being whores anyhow. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that the New York cops are “handling” the case in much the same way as their “brother officers” in Vancouver, BC handled the “investigation” of serial killer Robert Pickton:
RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford…said top Mounties had “enough evidence for a search warrant” of serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm in 1999 [but failed to act upon it, allowing] 14 women [to be] brutally murdered [over the next three years]. She says she will testify that both RCMP and Vancouver Police Department officers, even after the Missing Women Task Force was formed in 2001, engaged in sexual liaisons and harassment, watched porn and left work early “to go drinking and partying.”
“The saddest part of this is that the women who were killed were the most vulnerable people in our society, other than children,” she said. “I will not be testifying on behalf of the RCMP at the inquiry,” she said, saying her first concern is for people whose loved ones didn’t have to die. “Tell the families,” said Galliford, her voice breaking…”I’ve got their back.”
…Galliford said [that] after the gruesome details had begun to emerge about how Pickton butchered women and scattered their remains at his…farm or dumped them at a Vancouver rendering plant, …a group of RCMP personnel were…constantly “making jokes about sex toys,” laughing and giving each other “fist bumps”…[they told her that] “They wanted to see Willie Pickton escape from prison, track me down and strip me naked, string me up on a meat hook and gut me like a pig,” said Galliford, who also recounted the episode in her formal statement to RCMP…
As this disgraceful conduct demonstrates, the kind of men who victimize whores are the same sort who might victimize any other women, but they choose to act out their impulses on prostitutes because society gives them implicit permission to do so by branding us “criminals” and “undesirables”.
Beside the Long Island Killer, we’ve seen many other stories about violence toward sex workers in the past year. There was the Florida cop who murdered an escort, the Surrey cops who decided to rob a madam instead of prosecuting men who threatened to burn her and her ladies alive, cops raping streetwalkers in New Orleans, Bakersfield, California and Houston, a judge raping an escort in New Mexico, Canadian government attorneys arguing that prostitutes don’t deserve legal protection, more serial killers in Memphis, Tennessee and North Carolina, police beating and robbing prostitutes in South Africa, and a gang robbing and murdering prostitutes in China…and that’s not counting the innumerable arrests, repeated attacks on our advertising venues and constant, malicious persecution of our clients and family members. To top it all off, politicians in Ireland, France and even Nevada have agitated for further criminalization of prostitutes, which invariably leads to more violence and less recourse for that violence. And just three days ago, Google announced that it is donating over $11 million to pro-criminalization organizations in the name of “fighting slavery” (SWAAY has announced protests to be held Wednesday).
Perhaps next year I’ll have fewer such incidents to report, but until the United States and other prohibitionist regimes follow in the footsteps of countries like Australia, misogynistic misfits (both in and out of uniform) will still be encouraged to attack us with little or no fear of consequences for their actions.