It took the disappearance of a prostitute who was an aspiring actress from Jersey City for Long Island authorities to suspect a serial killer and discover four bodies of women whose disappearances since 2007 had caused no stir, says the New York Times. The actress’ mother, Mari Gilbert, says police failed to protect her daughter and, along with the press and the public, did not take her disappearance seriously until she became part of a serial-killer case.
Prostitutes have long been invisible, vulnerable prey for the wicked and the depraved. Few notice them when they are alive, fewer still when they are missing or found dead, the Times says. “It really feels like there's just an open war against this population,” said Sienna Baskin of the Urban Justice Center's Sex Workers Project, which provides legal and social services. “I think it makes all sex workers feel vulnerable to violence. Even if they're working in a safe way, they live in a world where this happens regularly. From sexual assaults to stalking to theft to police brutality, these are really daily experiences that many sex workers face.”