Saturday, 20 December 2008

This is unbelievable

I'll keep it simple and just say that I agree with Feministe's sentiment; this is sickening:

It was a little before 8 at night when the breaker went out at Emily Milburn’s home in Galveston. She was busy preparing her children for school the next day, so she asked her 12-year-old daughter, Dymond, to pop outside and turn the switch back on.

As Dymond headed toward the breaker, a blue van drove up and three men jumped out rushing toward her. One of them grabbed her saying, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me.”

Dymond grabbed onto a tree and started screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” One of the men covered her mouth. Two of the men beat her about the face and throat.

As it turned out, the three men were plain-clothed Galveston police officers who had been called to the area regarding three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black drug dealer.

All this is according to a lawsuit filed in Galveston federal court by Milburn against the officers. The lawsuit alleges that the officers thought Dymond, an African-American, was a hooker due to the “tight shorts” she was wearing, despite not fitting the racial description of any of the female suspects. The police went to the wrong house, two blocks away from the area of the reported illegal activity, Milburn’s attorney, Anthony Griffin, tells Hair Balls.

After the incident, Dymond was hospitalized and suffered black eyes as well as throat and ear drum injuries.

Three weeks later, according to the lawsuit, police went to Dymond’s school, where she was an honor student, and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Griffin says the allegations stem from when Dymond fought back against the three men who were trying to take her from her home. The case went to trial, but the judge declared it a mistrial on the first day, says Griffin. The new trial is set for February.

“I think we’ll be okay,” says Griffin. “I don’t think a jury will find a 12-year-old girl guilty who’s just sitting outside her house. Any 12-year-old attacked by three men and told that she’s a prostitute is going to scream and yell for Daddy and hit back and do whatever she can. She’s scared to death.”

Since the incident more than two years ago, Dymond regularly suffers nightmares in which police officers are raping and beating her and cutting off her fingers, according to the lawsuit.

Griffin says he expects to enter mediation with the officers in early 2009 to resolve the lawsuit.

This is disturbing on so many levels. Most obviously the fact the a 12-year old black girl was supposedly mistaken for three white women, then there's the level of violence directed against a child, on top of that three weeks later she was taken out of her school in what seems to me like a pretty transparent attempt to intimidate.

Perhaps a little less obvious are the issues related to sex workers, I find it despicable that the police would unleash that level of violence against what is after all a non-violent crime. Not to mention that if they did, as they claim, believe she was a prostitute that's not something that should be dealt with by the police. A 12-year old prostitute is a child protection issue, it's not an issue that can be dealt with a club to the back of the head.

On a related issue this Wednesday was theInternational Day to
End Violence Against Sex Workers
; sex workers are at high risk of violence not just because of their working environment but also because of society's (in my opinion hypocritical) disapproval of their profession. I would hope that anyone reading this would be able to put aside any disapproval of the profession and see the human beings who are affected by violence.

Related to this issue is human trafficking; the BBC has this to say on human trafficking into the UK (Emphasis added by bolding is mine):

The UK is a major destination for trafficked women. Police believe that about 4,000 have been brought in to the country and forced to work as prostitutes.

Criminal gangs bring them into the country individually or in small, escorted groups. The routes used can change quickly, although some broad routes have been identified.

Victims are found "all over the UK, not just in metropolitan areas", police say.

The gangs behind the trade buy and sell the women for between £2,000 and £8,000. Some have been forced to work 16 hours and have sex with 30 men a day.

A lot of the women brought into this country to be raped by British men are very young and some are children. I wonder how the British police would handle a situation like that involving Dymond Milburn, I would hope that it would be a lot better than the Galveston police. I can't imagine how it could be much worse.

This is one of many extremely serious issues that Labour must address, and for me it's one of the reasons why we must fight for a fourth term. The Tories, like the Republicans in the US, like to fight on a platform of "old fashioned family values". Which essentially means reinforcing the status quo of rich white men. They would ignore cases like this because "hey, if they weren't prostitutes it wouldn't happen to them so they're to blame".

Let's Go 4th for Universal Human Rights.

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