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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.

A hero dog without a snout arrives in the United States.

5 Responses to Naming Prostitutes

  1. I do not think the names of the prostitutes should be realeased. Only names of Sex-offenders should be relased, such as rapists etc for the safety of the community. I ask you, are prostitutes on the same level as sex offenders? I personally do not think so. maybe not all prostitutes are “victims” as you’d define the word, but do they deserve to have that on their public record for the rest of their lives? what about redemption? if we want them to clean up their act, how do you expect them to get decent work without a decent public profile? I also think that even though you may not call them victims, many if not all prostitutes have a history of beiong a victim, or have a troubled past of being taken advantage of, which brings them to that profession in the first place.

  2. Firstly, i don’t have a problem with women prostituting themselves if its their free choice, but if it its to remain a crime, why treat them differently than other criminals?

    Also, Rachel nice choice of image for your prostitute story… A little 50 shades of gray?

    • October 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      You would treat them differently if there’s reason to believe they’re victims of sex crimes. We don’t report names of victims. Catch-22 for media. And it raises questions about the police determination of who’s a victim and who isn’t.

  3. October 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm JR Teeter responds:

    Any person who prostitutes themselves was at one time a victim and society failed to help them. Whether it was sex abuse as a child, human trafficing, drug abuse, etc. Noone stands on a corner and has sex with strangers for $20 a pop because they think its a good idea. They do it because they don’t have a choice and society has pushed them to the margins.

  4. October 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm lellingw responds:

    Public humiliation hardly helps any situation. If someone commits a crime and there are charges, then I guess it is public but thinking releasing a name is going to stop a man from going to a prostitute is not a deterrent. Prostitution laws needs to change and be legal. In that way there will better control on diseases and who are prostitutes as well as who runs the businesses.

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