is often called the oldest profession in the world, although I suspect politics
came first. Of course, there are strong similarities between the two
professions – we tend to get screwed by both, but politicians end up being a
lot more expensive.
Men are physically violent and destructive
also a safer career choice, but apart from the odd assassination, politicians tend
not to get physically attacked or killed.
Prostitutes, on the other hand, get killed on a regular basis.
statistics put the homicide rate for female sex workers in the USA at 204 per
100,000. The next riskiest jobs in the country were male taxicab drivers (29
per 100,000) and female liquor store workers (4 per 100,000).
recently asked to explain why men murder prostitutes, and it’s been rather an
interesting question to explore.
women don’t go about murder in the same way. Contrary to general belief, women
are just as capable of cruelty and murder as men, but men are more likely to be
physically violent and destructive. Women are the poisoners, patient and seemingly
kind as they slowly kill their victims under the guise of caring: “Have a
little more soup, my dear; I made it just for you.”
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examples in recent years of nurses bumping off patients they considered “superfluous”,
and “concerned” mothers slaying their children. Women tend to be personally
involved with their victims: husband or boyfriend, child or parent. Men seem more likely to murder randomly, opportunistically,
wanting to get away with it, to do it again.
there’s a religious zealot or fanatic who sees “fallen women” as being sinful
and causing others to sin, and therefore deserving to die. Maybe to a minor degree such ideas may help
other killers feel justified, even though their motives are deeper and darker.
Such people are more likely to be mentally
disturbed, even psychotic, with garbled explanations why they need to play the
role of executioner. Think of the Son of Sam killings, in New York, where
serial killer David Berkowitz in the late 1970s shot at courting couples in
cars, killing 6 people and wounding 7, claiming he received instructions to
kill from “Sam”, a devil, through his dog . Coincidentally, the
dedicated detective who caught him, Timothy Dowd, died very recently, aged
Nobody will miss them
reason prostitutes get killed is probably because they are uniquely vulnerable,
which means that their killers may have a better chance of escaping justice.
There aren’t many people who will agree to meet with you in a private place, not
telling anyone where they’re going, not expecting to know your name or
identity, and keeping no record of the meeting.
They’re like runaways and street
people, in the sense that nobody will miss them if they disappear. These are marginalised
people who tend to steer clear of the police and their disappearance is
therefore unlikely to be reported. When Joel Rifkin confessed to killing 17
prostitutes around New York from 1989 to 1993, not one of them had ever been
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ideal victim, and this attracts predators.
As the career crook Willie Sutton supposedly said when asked why he
robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is.” Working girls don’t want to
attract attention and rarely report crimes committed against them, or, for that
matter, the disappearance of a colleague. They trust to their instincts in
choosing whether to go with a client, though such instincts aren’t
prepared to engage in sadomasochistic activities, they may allow themselves to
be tied up or otherwise rendered helpless. The relationship between sexual
activity and murder varies: some killers may attack the woman after they have
had sex, or during sex, and some may prefer to have sex after killing them.
categories can get muddled in complex ways. Last year there was a case in
Australia where a man who worked as a gigolo, and also a male hustler, murdered
his transgender wife who also worked as an escort. He later dismembered and cooked
her in their apartment and committed suicide after the police discovered what
was boiling on the stove (the Prasetyo/Volke case).
Not what he expected
clients kill male hustlers? Apparently so, as in the case of the brutal robbery
and murder of a gay flight attendant during a layover in Mexico City, but much
less commonly than straight men kill hookers.
There are occasional
cases reported where a client kills a prostitute who turns out to be not what
he claims to have expected, such as the 2013 Philadelphia case where a man
murdered and dismembered a transgender prostitute after discovering he’d been
born a man.
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relatively few media reports of prostitutes killing clients. One is the recent
case of the aptly named Ms Tichelman who was arrested last year in California
for killing the rich man who hired her for sex on his yacht. He was a successful software engineer for
legendary companies and she was a model and “high-end prostitute”.
their festivities, she injected him with so much heroin that he died on the
spot. A security camera showed her, as he lay dying, sipping a glass of wine as
she stepped back and forth over him to gather her belongings, rather than
calling an ambulance.
So what can and should be done about it?
show major differences according to where and how the women work. Street
prostitutes are at much higher risk than call girls and those who work in massage
parlours and brothels. This means that the risk is significantly lower where
sex work is legal, though there are still occasional attacks on women working
in legal brothels.
Zealand, where sex work has been decriminalized and the women don’t have to work
alone or in isolated areas, violence has indeed been significantly reduced. It’s estimated that at least 60 prostitutes
have been murdered even in comparatively safe Britain over the past 10 years. In
more accepting and regulated societies, conditions are definitely safer. In
Amsterdam, only two prostitutes have been murdered during the last 5 years.
work is illegal, women need to take their customers to isolated places where
they’re less likely to be interrupted or arrested. Sometimes sex work is legal
only when the women work alone, rather than in groups, increasing the degree of
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policing attempts to discourage prostitution also increase risk of assault or murder. It’s been reported from Britain that clients
drive the working women from safer, brightly lit streets with security cameras,
to dingy back streets where they are far more vulnerable.
A prostitute can also be raped
violent clients, the women are also at risk from pimps who protect themselves
and their profits rather than the women who supposedly pay them for protection.
work is illegal, the police tend to focus on arresting them as criminals, and
are less likely to investigate attacks on sex workers. A study of street sex workers in California
found that 82 % had been physically assaulted and/or threatened with a weapon
and 68 % had been raped while at work as a prostitute. People forget that a
prostitute can also be raped, just as someone selling anything else can be
has always been present within society, and almost always regarded with
disapproval. Becoming a prostitute also isn’t always a choice and many are
driven to prostitution by poverty and drug addiction. It is also a very dangerous occupation – so
dangerous that it almost amounts to an acceptance of capital punishment for those
who engage in it.
of affairs somehow doesn’t seem fair. It seems anomalous that other activities
that cause more harm to individuals and society, while dangerous, are considerably
less dangerous. Drug dealers, for
instance, are not often killed by their clients, and they arguably cause much
more harm to society than prostitutes.
Read: Drug abuse
In a sense
we behave as though prostitutes are solely responsible for what goes on between
them and their clients, even though in reality their clients are equally
involved. It’s almost as though there’s a general consensus that men would be
saintly and pure if it weren’t for the evil prostitutes leading them astray.
ambiguous nature of prostitutes’ role in society greatly enhances their risk of
a horrible death. Their position as peripheral members of society probably
reflects society’s ambivalent attitude towards sexual pleasure. Rappers, pop
stars and sportsmen also provide the public with a lot of pleasure, but because
their activities are not of an overtly sexual nature they are allowed to charge
a much higher price for their efforts with much less risk to themselves.
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