In an editorial published in yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times, writer Mary Mitchell essentially argued that sex workers cannot be raped. Mitchell is in disbelief that Chicago-area authorities have charged Roy Akins with aggrevated criminal sexual assault, rather than theft because he raped a sex worker.
According to a report from Mitchell’s own newspaper, Akins solicited a sex worker on Backpage.com, agreeing to pay $180 for her services:
“But the 29-year-old didn’t have the money to pay her. So when the woman came to his home in the Austin neighborhood on Aug. 9, Akins walked her upstairs, led her to a bedroom and then returned holding a gun and raped her, Assistant State’s Attorney Kim Przekota said at Akins’ bond hearing Thursday.”
In her op-ed, Mitchell argues that prosecuting Akins for rape, “mak[es] a mockery of rape victims.” She continues:
Unfortunately, the way this case is being handled makes it look like sex trafficking is a legitimate business.
I’m not one of those women who believe rape victims are at fault because they dressed too provocatively or misled some randy guy into thinking it was his lucky night.
But when you agree to meet a strange man in a strange place for the purpose of having strange sex for money, you are putting yourself at risk for harm.
It’s tough to see this unidentified prostitute as a victim. And because this incident is being charged as a criminal sexual assault — when it’s actually more like theft of services — it minimizes the act of rape.
Real rape victims, according to Mitchell, are women who have been beaten, bruised and assaulted despite doing “nothing to bring about this terrible, terrible ordeal.” It’s an easy elision that Mitchell makes, implying that sexual innocence and regard for the rules of safety are what actually makes one a victim, but it’s deeply tied to old and ugly stereotypes.
The op-ed is a persistent reminder that anachronistic views of sex workers—treating them as morally questionable objects rather than human beings—ends at a place where being raped at gunpoint is hardly a crime. Perhaps that perspective is what actually “minimizes the act of rape.”
Despite Mitchell’s disbelief, Akins is being held on $750,000 bail.
Image via AP