I was encouraged to see the Globe approach the important and often-overlooked topic of commercial sexual exploitation at the center of Boston’s opioid crisis at Mass. ave and Melnea Cass Boulevard in the recent article “Packing compassion on the beat: Mental health background aids officer as part of outreach in community” (Page A1, Aug. 29). As referenced in the recent Globe Magazine article “Kate Price remembers something terrible,” I advise a clinic supporting victims of trafficking in this neighborhood.
Foremost, the article’s premise that one person can adequately respond to such a complex issue within the complicated mass. and Cass landscape is reductive. Research indicates team-based, multidisciplinary responses to sex trafficking are most effective. Yes, the article mentions a task force, but the story emphasizes a self-described one-man crusade.
Further, a quote from Boston Police Officer Ben Linsky at the end of the article reinforces the myth that recovery is simply a choice: “ ‘There’s no shortage of resources available to us,’ he said, but the pull of addiction is overwhelming. ‘It’s so hard to get people to make a good choice.’ “Persistent addiction and sex trade involvement are not merely about women failing to avail themselves of effective and accessible support. This statement airbrushes what in reality is a blatant lack of services tailored to this unique population. This shortage leads to poorer addiction, gender-based violence, and mental health outcomes for sex-trafficked women.
Finally, while research suggests most sex buyers are white men, the story’s imagery shows a man of color being arrested for soliciting sex. An opportunity was missed to show readers a more accurate view of the typically hidden crime of sex trafficking. Instead, this imagery reinforces racist stereotypes in a neighborhood where communities of color are already disproportionately policed.
I encourage the Globe to do more to portray the complexities fueling the intersection of substance use disorder and commercial sexual exploitation in Boston.
Wellesley Centers for Women