Detroit area murders not because of Backpage

Over the past month, 4 women have been murdered in Detroit, MI and another two have gone missing. 

Kalisha Madden went missing Nov. 28 after her shift ended at 3a at the Vegas Strip Club on Michigan Ave.  She was seen leaving with 3 males in a black car or truck.

Cherice Gordon, who knew Kalisha and had even danced with her at clubs and private parties, went missing Nov. 30.  Her mother said she got a phone call and left, and she has not been heard from since.

On Dec. 17, cousins Demesha Hunt and Renisha Landers went to a party at the Blackberry on Grand River.  They were reported missing when they did not return home by the next day.  Their bodies were found on Dec. 19 in the trunk of an abandoned car.

At 1a Christmas Day, Vernithea McCrary and another unidentified woman were found in the trunk of a burning car in another east Detroit neighborhood.

It is unknown at this time if the cases of the missing women are related to the recent murders, but the possibility certainly seems too unlikely of a coincidence.

Police say that 3 out of the 4 murder victims had profiles on Backpage.  Backpage has responded by reaching out to authorities to aid in the investigation, including helping to identify a number of other websites that the women might have had profiles on.

There is a sense of déjà vu in the rush from the media and other online sources to vilify Backpage as some sort of co-conspirator in the deaths of these women.  The "Craigslist Killer" was the tipping point in helping shut down Craigslist erotic services section, and this recent string of events in Detroit will not doubt fuel the already strong campaign that is being waged to shut down the similar adult services section of Backpage.  What these critics ignore is that the true co-conspirator is not these advertising venues, but rather our society as a whole due to how devalued sex workers are, in part due to the laws that isolate us from the protections most others take for granted. 

What makes escorts, prostitutes and other sex workers a target for violence is not how or where we advertise, but the fact that violent predators know that those crimes against sex workers are often under reported, and if they are, they are not investigated or prosecuted as diligently.  Those that work in the sex trade are often viewed as criminals that some how signed on for such violence to be perpetrated against us.  Until we have equal rights and equal protection, the predators will continue to seek us out in any and every advertising venue available.  Backpage is not to blame, nor are any of the dozens of other advertising venues that the victims are said to possibly have had escort profiles on.  It is the violent predators that are to blame, and the focus needs to stay on the mark there, including why sex workers are often the target of their crimes. 


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