I’d actually put tonight’s Grind the Vote event at BeBar into my calendar several weeks ago because it sounds like a good time for what I consider a good cause. For a suggested at-the-door donation of around $10 – you can use your own discretion based on how well heeled you are – you get to watch striptease, drag, and burlesque acts while enjoying music and drink specials.
Unfortunately, in the time since I first took note of this event, the world has provided a textbook perfect case of why this kind of event is necessary. On July 23, ending almost a year-long spree, suspected serial rapist Mark Humphries shot himself rather than be arrested. By that time nine different women had been raped and threatened with death if they told.
As it turns out, that was almost superfluous. The WaPo story spends its early paragraphs covering the more True-Crime-Drama of Humprhries’ interactions with the police as he attempted to do counter-intelligence on his pursuers, so it’s not till you’re fifteen paragraphs in before the story shows why organizations like HIPS and Different Avenues are so necessary:
Officers almost disregarded the first account of a rape involving green gloves, on Sept. 24, 2007. Despite television dramas about serial rapists, crime statistics show most attacks occur between victims and assailants who know each other and are rarely carried out in such a clearly premeditated fashion. The woman also changed her story about her own circumstances: She said she had gone to the Forestville apartment complex to see a friend. Minutes later, she said she was actually in town from Nevada.
“It was hard for officers to believe,” recalled Detective Spencer Harris, who took the call and became the lead detective in the case police would dub “The Craigslist Serial Rapist.” “When they told me a little bit more about what she was saying — the guy wearing green gloves — I said, ‘Something is not right.’ ”
The victim eventually confided in Harris: She was an escort and getting on a plane back to Reno in the morning. She had posted an ad on Craigslist while in town and had arranged to meet a man that night. When she began walking up the stairwell, “this guy came out of nowhere — handgun, ski mask,” Harris recalled her saying. The rapist attacked her in a storage room for more than two hours, all the while snapping pictures of her and pointing a gun to her head.
The same situation repeats itself again in the story with “One victim did not report the attack, fearing she would be in trouble.” Who knows how many other women were assaulted that we’ll never know about?
The rapist committed his assaults over a period almost a year long, a period of time that included the Spitzer scandal and during half of which his acts had been publicized. Yet the quantity of sex workers hasn’t diminished any, and an understanding of basic human nature tells us they’re not going away. So long as we continue a prohibition on selling what you can legally give away for free there’s going to be a group of people who are targets for criminals who aren’t engaging in mutually consensual behavior, some of whom were driven to that career by virtue of being marginalized in other ways.
So go spend a few bucks to celebrate sexuality and support some charities who help the vulnerable.
july 30 9pm-2am
1318 9th St NW DC
$5-10 donation to benefit grassroots sex worker groups