Excerpt from Some Mother’s Daughter, The Hidden Movement of Prostitute Women Against Violence, International Prostitutes Collective, Crossroads Books 1999, pp49-51.
1981: The trial of the Yorkshire Ripper, serial murderer Peter Sutcliffe, who murdered 13 women.
PROSTITUTES ARE INNOCENT OK!
We are picketing today to protest against the handling of the Ripper case — by the court, the police and the media.
Attorney General condones murder of prostitutes
The Attorney General Sir Michael Havers (prosecuting) said of the Ripper’s victims that “some were prostitutes, but perhaps the saddest part of this case is that some were not. The last six attacks were on totally respectable women.” (Our emphasis)
This distinction between prostitutes and “respectable” and “innocent” victims has been made all along by the police and the media – the murder of prostitute women seems irrelevant and unimportant. This attitude towards prostitutes, much the same as the Ripper’s, allowed him to carry on murdering women for five years. Is the Attorney General suggesting that if the Ripper had restricted himself to prostitutes his “mission to clean up the streets” would have been more acceptable? Such criminal comments and the media’s acceptance of them are an incitement to murder women.
Prostitutes have families too
It is disgusting that the victims and their families are treated with no respect by the court, the police and the media. Prostitutes have parents and children too — 23 children are now motherless because of the Ripper. How must they feel to hear their mothers insulted and vilified in court and in the press? How must they feel about Sutcliffe’s relatives making a lot of money for telling the story of their mothers’ murderer?
Police on trial
The police have been inexcusably biased and incompetent:
- Nothing was done for the first two years and four murders when all the victims were prostitutes.
- The police only started to pay attention when the first “respectable” woman was killed in 1977.
- They were completely thrown off track by the tape and the letter [a hoax sent by someone pretending to be the Ripper].
- They questioned Sutcliffe nine times and each time let him go.
- They ignored information from Sutcliffe’s friend.
- When the last victim’s handbag was found, the search wasn’t pursued because “it was a cold night, very windy and difficult to see anything.” The weather has never stopped them arresting and harassing prostitutes, how come it stopped them pursuing the Ripper that night?
At the moment you’d think the villain of the piece is what the press called his “cold” and “nagging” wife. Yet 13 women need not have died if the police had done their job. What other blunders did they make that the public doesn’t even know about? Why is there an internal investigation into Ronald Gregory, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire? Other people in high places have already expressed their concern. Two MPs have already demanded that the Home Secretary orders an inquiry into the police handling of the case.
1. A public inquiry into the police handling of the case. The public is entitled to know how the £4m allocated to this case was spent.
2. A public apology from the Attorney General to the families of the prostitute victims.
3. An end to bias and sensational media coverage. All human life is “respectable”.
4. An end to bias and discrimination against prostitutes by the police and the courts.
5. Compensation for the victims and their families — especially for their children — from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.