While driving in the car yesterday, I heard a radio reporter say police were withholding the names of two women charged with prostitution because they may be victims. The women were charged in an investigation of a Henrietta massage parlor.
That raises some ethical questions for the news media, which does not report the names of people who are victims of sex crimes. But it does report the names of criminals.
Are all prostitutes victims? How is the media to know which are victims and which are hooking of their own free will? Should these alleged prostitutes have been charged at all?
Gary Craig of the Democrat and Chronicle did a great series on this issue:
Prostitutes are arrested at a far greater rate than the “johns” who pay them for sex or the men and women who may be collecting the money and demanding they continue working.
Multiple arrests of trafficked prostitutes instill a distrust of law enforcement and add further proof that the individual controlling them is a protective ally, some activists say.
“The worst thing you can do is really victimize the victim,” said Andra Ackerman, a Monroe County prosecutor who previously headed the state’s sex trafficking prevention operation.
The way the Henrietta massage parlor workers were treated was far different than the young woman who appeared on “Wife Swap.” She made headlines around the country when she was charged with prostitution after a night partying with a Rochester lawyer, whom she apparently had known for some time. The news media reported the steamy details of their financial arrangement. I thought the 20-year-old had been terribly exploited by the entire episode.
I commend police for withholding the names of women they believe are victims. But how are they deciding who’s a victim and who isn’t? Some could make the case all prostitutes are victims – of pimps, traffickers, drug addiction, violence, sexual abuse or poverty. I also think news organizations should come up with policies for when to report names of prostitutes, given the new (overdue) sensitivity to their plight.
Links of the Day:
– How many places to do you shop to get household staples, such as food, paper products and pet supplies? Many of us go multiple places, but Wegmans and other chains want you to cut down.
– Did you know Target has an urban model called CityTarget?
– I love this story in the Buffalo News about a woman charged $400 to get her stolen car out of the impound. People stepped up to help in a big way.