sex worker rights

Lou FCD's picture

In Ontario, Stephine Beck's Life Worth Little

On Sunday, March 4, 2007, at 6:39 a.m., Stephine Beck was found dead, face down in the snow with her pants pulled down and her top pulled up. She had been strangled and dumped. Beck was the mother of five children, and pregnant.

Imagine the outrage this must have generated in the courtroom when the accused was brought to trial! Imagine how little mercy the presiding judge must have shown while sentencing the man convicted of such a heinous act. The killer was a crack addict, a drunk, and frequented prostitutes. His grown daughter testified that when they were children, her father would call them bitches and sluts. He was known to abuse his ex-wife when they were married. Surely the citizens of Ontario had their pitchforks and torches at the ready!

On a second look at bail, the judge himself wrote :

Yet, it is obvious that the accused is a Jekyll-and-Hyde type who leads a double life: a conscientious worker with a long-standing criminal involvement in drugs and prostitution.  The fact that his private world is populated almost entirely by drug-addled prostitutes (whom he sometimes abuses), leads one to suspect that he has psychosocial problems and is socially stunted.

Elsewhere in the court documents we learn more about Ryczak's emotional involvements with and violent feelings toward women who don't do as he would like them to do:

Melissa Reeves has stayed over in the accused’s trailer.  She has had conversations with him about Jennifer Dunsford.  The accused told Ms. Reeves that he was hoping for a relationship with Ms. Dunsford, but she rejected him.  He expressed anger at Edith Price, who was a girlfriend of Ms. Dunsford’s.  He told Ms. Reeves that he had “a bullet with Edie’s name on it.”  He also stated that he had another bullet for Jamie Price, Ms. Price’s brother."

The killer strangled Stephine in his home and was seen by the neighbor to drag her body out, load the body into his SUV, and drive away, returning a half hour later. Blood at the scene was DNA matched to Stephine. Leaves from a lime plant were found in Stephine's pants that matched a plant in the accused's home. The case was open and shut.

Surely this man, this murderer of Stephine Beck, was put away for a very, very long time, right?

Well, not so much.

Chris's picture

A Goodbye to Deborah Jeane Palfrey

As is true of a lot of people in the sex-positive community, I've been thinking a lot about Deborah Jean Palfrey's death this past week. I didn't know her personally, and never met her in person, so I can't speak of her death in terms of personal tragedy or grief. But grief and anger are what I'm feeling, because Deborah Jeane Palfrey's fate could have been written onto the lives of so many women and men. And the anger comes from the fact that it has, and it will be.

The real tragedy of her death, from where I'm standing, is not anything extraordinary about her story, but how common and familiar it is, to the point of being cliché. If the story of Deborah Jean Palfrey had been laid out in a novel or play or screenplay, I would be angry at having my time wasted by a writer who was unable or unwilling to rise above cheap hackery that was old and worn out in the days of the Victorian penny dreadfuls. But Palfrey was a real person, and it makes me sick and angry to think how often the lives of people who should live peaceful, untroubled lives are forced into old patterns.

kerwynk's picture

Problems with anti-trafficking legislation

I originally posted this in response to Audacia's interview on WNYC, but (upon request) am also posting a modified version as a new topic. To wit:

One of the main concerns I have with the anti-trafficking legislation is that it encourages policing activities that are actually counter-productive for the overwhelming majority of sex workers. But understanding why this is true requires that one have a realistic understanding as to the diversity of working conditions within the sex biz. 

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