Renee Duckmanton was a person - end of story

By Hadassah Grace

The media are right to talk openly about murder victim Renee Duckmanton's profession, says fellow sex worker and writer Hadassah Grace.

Nigel Latta would like journalists to stop referring to Renee Duckmanton as a sex worker. "She was a person, who deserves respect", he says.

His post has been shared over 6000 times by people who mostly agree.

It concerns me to see otherwise compassionate people putting caveats on what the dead deserve. Saying, "Well, she might have been a prostitute but she had family and another job."

As though those are the things that make it alright to care when a prostitute is murdered. As though the crime might be a little less horrific if she were only another sex worker.

Reading through the comments on the media's coverage of the murder of Renee Duckmanton, I see a lot of people who are quick to remind the world that Ms Duckmanton was somebody's daughter.

She had another job that she worked during the day. She was bubbly and adorable.

I'm sure all those things are true. This is a devastating crime, and my heart goes out to her family and friends. I didn't know her, but I'm sure she was a wonderful young woman.
Even if she wasn't, she would still not have deserved death.

Renee Duckmanton doesn't deserve respect because she was somebody's daughter. She deserves respect because she was a person, and every person deserves respect.

I'm a sex worker. I'm also a person. Every other sex worker I know is a person, too.
Some of us have loving families, and some of us don't. Some of us have boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives. Some of us don't. Some of us have full time day jobs, and some of us just sleep in and go shopping on our days off. Some of us have drug addictions and eating disorders. Some of us are in abusive relationships. Some of us have children to support. Some of us are working our way through med school, or a PhD, and some of us never even graduated high school. Some of us are writing books, saving up to buy a house, start a business, fly around the world. Some of us aren't.

It concerns me to see otherwise compassionate people putting caveats on what the dead deserve.

We are all still people. We all deserve respect, and none of us deserves to be murdered.
It's a dangerous job. But there are lots of dangerous jobs in the world. I don't remember anyone saying the Pike River tragedy could have been avoided if the miners had just chosen a safer job. Or those forestry worker deaths aren't tragic in themselves. But they're out in droves when a sex worker is harmed.

Why do we view dead sex workers as less deserving of respect than dead daughters, teachers, miners, or bubbly young women who worked at Bunnings? I appreciate the media accurately reporting the murder of a sex worker, because if someone is out there murdering women in my profession, I'd like to know about it.

What I don't appreciate is having to constantly remind people that the reason killers and rapists target sex workers is because there's so much stigma around our jobs that our lives and safety are viewed as literally worthless. We're seen as easy targets, because we live in a society which treats violence towards us as inevitable.

I've gotten angry with the media in the past. I've been one of those feminists on Twitter calling for a retraction or an apology over the insensitive ways some journalists have written about sex work, or sexual assault. I think it's important we acknowledge the role the media plays in shaping society's views, and how much of an impact a few poorly chosen words can have.

Right at this moment though, I'm more concerned with why a profession that is legal is being treated like a dirty word; and why, if I were harmed, I would have to pass some invisible threshold of respectability in order for anyone to care.

• Hadassah Grace is a writer living in Wellington. She writes about sex, politics, and sexual politics.

Hadassah Grace. Photo / Supplied
Hadassah Grace. Photo / Supplied

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 09 Dec 2016 22:48:35 Processing Time: 1675ms