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December 16th, 2010

Somebody’s Daughter

Somebody's Daughter

Sera told me about Dateline’s recent special called Somebody’s Daughter. The permalink seemed a bit funny so if it doesn’t work just go to Dateline’s main page and search for “Somebody’s Daughter”. From Dateline-”A sinister force seemed to be snatching women off the streets of Albuquerque. Josh Mankiewicz reports from New Mexico.”

Dateline did a two hour special on the West Mesa murders in New Mexico. The episode turned out to be pretty good. It wasn’t perfect but after the Spitzer scandal I was prepared for worse.

First off I was impressed they devoted two hours to the murders. When I first heard about it I had expected a twenty minute piece. The story starts with Ida Lopez a police officer assigned to the missing persons area after coming back from sick leave. They cover the bones being discovered and then matched up to missing women who were street prostitutes. One of the victim’s family is also interviewed.

The title “Somebody’s Daughter” was perfect. Because the bottom line is these victims meant something to someone. They were loved by people still alive today. They were daughters, sisters and mothers to people who miss them and grieve for them.

Several moments stood out for me. There was a moment when the reporter asked Ida Lopez about how some believe prostitutes are not as important as other people. Lopez responded that everyone is equal to God and everyone counts. It was refreshing to hear a police officer say that prostitutes count.

One of the victim’s father Dan Valdez at one point says “If you don’t have faith in your law enforcement to treat every crime equally then what do you have?” I thought this was a tellingly question. For several months Valdez patrolled street corners himself looking for his lost daughter. And that’s what you do have. When the police can’t or won’t help, average citizens have to do it themselves.

Another moment that really made me tear up was when the journalist was talking about the monthly vigils held by the victims families. Seeing their makeshift memorial was so sad.

One part that particularly irked me was when the reporter said that in this area “drug addiction and prostitution literally go hand in hand”. It’s true that some prostitutes are drug addicts but not all of them are. The prostitutes I’m friends with do the work for many reasons but none of them do it because of a drug addiction. Sweeping statements like that do nothing to advance sex worker rights.

In the past week there’s been some developments in the case. You can read about that here. I recommend the watching this special also.

Posted by Vixen as News, Sex Workers at 10:30 PM CST

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