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D.C. Police Tells Girls To “Stay Home” In Wake Of Human Trafficking Epidemic: Another Case Of Victim Blaming

Through the power of social media, the disappearance of black and latinx women in the D.C. area has not gone unnoticed. And while reports indicate that the disappearance of these women has not spiked up in the past few months, it merely just goes to show how much happens right under our nose that the media negates to report or cover.

The Metropolitan Police Department has seemingly downplayed the notion of human trafficking being affiliated with the disappearance of these women. They have pointed out some stats from previous years (via their Twitter feed) that shows consistency when referring to women missing in the D.C. area today. And while that may be the unfortunate truth, this does not suppress the horror of multiple women missing in such short time spans. As a matter of fact, one could argue that this only reassures that human trafficking is not only emerging as of late, but has been an epidemic going on for years that has merely gone unacknowledged.

In the wake of this issue being brought to the public eye, the people are demanding that the D.C. police get to the bottom of this. With fear lingering in the hearts of black and latinx women in the D.C. area, it is the job of the police to assure the protection of these people and commit to solving the crime rather than victimizing those who are victims of the crime.

So why did the Police do the complete opposite?

In an interview on WPGC 95.5 with the Joe Clair morning show, Charles Dickerson (the new commander of the D.C. Police Youth and Family Services Division) replied with this when asked what can these young girls do in order to avoid being victims of sex trafficking:

“Stay home, it’s as simple as that. If they stay home, it reduces the risk. I’m not saying that’s the fix-all but that’s where we have to start. We have to start small, this is a problem and it’ll take a community effort, but we have to start small.”

This statement was painfully redundant and some people on Twitter have voiced their distaste with Dickerson’s comments.

https://twitter.com/Wale/status/844587278609584128

These comments by Charles Dickerson woefully symbolize America’s infatuation with victimizing the victims rather than empathizing with them. This is a common theme that is especially prevalent in cases dealing with rape victims and cases dealing with impoverished people. America blames rape victims for wearing “revealing clothing” that “provokes” sexual abuse, and they blame impoverished people for being poor and then complaining about being poor. America often turns a blind eye on the oppressors and chooses to scrutinize the oppressed. History clearly depicts this, especially when you examine former racial caste such as slavery, Jim Crow, and examine our current racial caste that is mass incarceration. America would rather challenge the ones hurt by the system rather than challenging the actual system. This type of mindset helps the people of America sleep better at night knowing that it is not their countries fault, rather it is the faults of the “bad seeds” in our country who had this “coming to them.” But in a case where young black and latinx women are missing, are being stripped of their future and are potentially being advertised as sex slaves, this mindset must be eliminated if we expect to get to the bottom of this heinous crime.

The rhetoric behind these missing women does not help neither. These women are often portrayed as “runaways.” Such language is used to suggest that the disappearance of these women was inevitable. These women are portrayed as bad kids running away from home and running into the hands of kidnappers. They are portrayed as women who have left behind their lives at home and have decided to pursue a new life with complete strangers. And while some of these instances are true and while these runaway women still deserve our empathy and concern, some of these women are not runaways but are merely leaving the house to go to school, work, or to enjoy time out with their friends and are not returning home. So when you have the commander of D.C Police Youth suggesting that these women “stay home,” it is insulting to the women who can not afford to stay home because they have to pursue an education. They have to put some money in their pocket. And they have the right to enjoy time out with their friends and should not be penalized to exercise this right simply because the police is not trying hard enough to end the cases of minority women going missing . This type of rhetoric is destructive and essentially blames these women for going out and living their lives rather than placing the blame on the police for not doing their job and protecting the people they are supposed to be policing.

“America would rather challenge the ones hurt by the system rather than challenging the actual system.”

These are scary times and who knows? If it was not for the tweets of @BlackMarvelGirl which garnered over 150,000 retweets (and counting) and shed light on the disappearance of black women in DC, the nationwide media spotlight devoted to these missing women may have continued to been nonexistent.

Social media needs to continue doing what it has been doing for the past couple of years and that is pushing for social justice. The pressure is on the police to not only find these women but assure that they are safe from trafficking in the near future. We must continue applying pressure. And if you are a black or latinx women who lives in the D.C. area or lives anywhere else in the world, please be safe. Share your location with somebody close to you, let people know where you are, and go out in groups. Your safety is critical to us. We are already losing women seemingly almost everyday, we cannot afford to lose you either.

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