Earlier today I came across a truly disturbing Facebook group called “Killing Your Hooker So You Don’t Have to Pay For Her.”
The group’s picture (click here to see the picture, scroll down) was that of a man aggressively chocking a woman lying face down. I was shocked, especially when I saw that the group had over 22,000 fans.
Who were these people? Better yet who created the group and why? Did these people think this group was funny because violence against sex workers isn’t funny? It’s actually a real problem that women around the world face every day.
In fact, this problem is so real that a national day of recognition – International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers – has been created to call attention to the heinous violence committed against sex workers across the globe. Each year on December 17th sex workers and their allies hold candlelight vigils to remember those murdered and raise awareness of the hate crimes committed against sex workers every day.
Women who enter the sex industry do not do so by choice. Poverty, inadequate education, gender inequality, a lack of other economically viable job options, and a host of other complex reasons often leave them with no other alternatives. Society, however, paints a different picture of sex workers – often calling their character or morals into question instead of recognizing the various reasons that put them in this dangerous position.
Sex workers represent one of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in society. They are often treated as less than human and are abused by a system that rips them of their human rights. Without protection from the law, sex workers are pimped, enslaved, beaten, raped, and murdered – often with no consequences for the perpetrator.
Whether or not you believe sex work should be legalized the truth of the matter is that without legal rights sex workers are dying – being murdered in cold blood because they have no rights. A group created to poke fun at this violence is not funny at all.
In retaliation to the “Killing Your Hooker So You Don’t Have to Pay For Her another Facebook group, “Hookers for the ban of the group calling for their murder,” was created. As it turns out, Facebook has removed the offending group’s page, but I have to wonder how this group was ever allowed to exist in the first place? It is shameful that Facebook allowed this group’s page to go up, especially for as long as it did and that it was removed with no apology.
Sex workers are human beings, just like you and me, and they deserve protection from harassment and abuse, and access to comprehensive healthcare to avoid the spread of HIV / AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. If you ask me they also deserve compassion and the tools to choose another alternative for their lives. At the very least they don’t deserve to be the butt of a joke or the target of a group that calls for their murder.
Photo by Megan Harris, flickr (titled "broken"); used with a Creative Commons license