23 February 2009

a prostitute has been killed

last thursday evening around midnight, Berti, a 19-year old hungarian woman, was killed. she worked at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 38 - just down the street from me.

according to the newspaper, Het Parool, the prominent theory is that she was killed by someone wanting her money. the police picked up a suspect on sunday but have not released any official theory. Berti was saving up so she could have a life together with her boyfriend in Hungary. she was generally liked by those who worked with her and also by those on the street. and she had a baby. but now she is dead.

it's been almost 5 years now since the last murder, and although that's a long time by many standards, it's not really all that long. and many of the woman working behind the windows are a bit more scared now. the question is whether it's really worth it.

and all of it makes me sad.

and i pray. i pray for protection for the women working, for those who have little to no choice and for those who apparently chosen this. and i pray for the women who see that the (potential) cost is really too high that they might have courage to start over with something new and that they might be helped well.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't help but notice that after reporting this sickening event, and the prevailing theory that she was robbed (which does seem likely), you conveniently segued into lamenting "whether it's really worth it" for these girls because of the "(potential) cost."

It's a total non-sequitur. If Berti was murdered for her money, it has nothing to do with her profession. Being violently robbed is an occupational hazard in any job where you handle money, but I can't see you making the same statement about a bank teller.

I must say that "so this fits how?" is certainly an appropriate title for you blog. I find it offensive that you are capitalising on this tragedy to promote your anti-prostitution agenda.

David Numan said...

Dear Anonymous,

I don't think Heyink's comment is as non-sequitur as you suggest. Unfortunately, there exists an attitude with some people that prostitutes are in some way sub-human, or think that their lives might be somehow disposable.

I can't imagine what goes through the mind of a murderer/thief, possibly driven by hard times or an addiction, but I can picture someone choosing an immigrant prostitute as a target over anyone else who handles money -- even in Amsterdam's well policed red light district. I think it is possibly that attitude of disregarding the fellow humanity in prostitutes that might enable this sort of crime.

Brenda said...

The following is my response to anonymous' comment:

i guess i don't see the motive for Berti's death as not related to her being a prostitute. even if she was in normal clothes getting ready to leave work when she was killed, it was her work that was focused on by the media. and the support organization for prostitues (among others) have remembered her and mourned for her - as a prostitute.

and even if one could see the motive for her death as being completely separate from her work, prostitution is recognized as being somewhat dangerous. if it wasn't dangerous, there wouldn't be sirens built into the workplaces - sirens that i regularly hear in my neighbourhood. and the other prostitutes wouldn't have been scared to work after Berti's death - even after hearing the likely cause and that the culprit was caught.

and if you'd like to interpret me as being anti-prostitution, i'm not offended - i've talked about that before on this blog. i don't think prostitution is how sex is meant to be. and i think prostitution is really hard on the women involved - both physically and emotionally. and because of that, i'd hope and pray that they could do something else. but for those who are convinced that prostitution is their best choice, i want to do what i can to help them be as safe as possible.

i want the best for the women who are my neighbours, even as i recognize that not everyone would agree with my understanding of what is "best." and one of my neighbours dies tragically than i cannot help but mourn her death.