‘Bad Guy List’ warns prostitutes, gives tips on staying safe


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – From a man in a van who claims to tase, torture and kill, to a duo stalking girls trying to be their pimps, to a rapist in a Prius, reports come in regularly from Albuquerque prostitutes to the nonprofit Street Safe New Mexico.

The mission at Street Safe New Mexico is that “street life can be dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be deadly.”

Whether they’re addicted to drugs, struggling to pay rent or to buy diapers, or controlled by a pimp, prostitutes know what they’re doing is a crime. Street Safe provides outreach on the streets. Their goal is to keep them safe, and if these women are going to do sex work anyway, they might as well know how to stay safe.
“They’re wonderful, amazing women who know how to survive and are worth trying to help,” said Christine Barber, executive director of Street Safe New Mexico.
“A lot of them have been on the streets since they were 13, 14 years old,” she said.
Her organization estimates that the area has more than 1,000 women who are regular prostitutes. Many often work sections of Central Avenue, day and night.
“That’s how they survive, doing that kind of work,” Barber said. “There’s another 18,000 women who are addicted who will do it occasionally in order to supplement their income,” she said.
“We’ll talk to the women, we bring them resources, we know their names, we know their entire families. We keep an eye on them,” said Barber.
It recently started including advice for women working the streets of Albuquerque.
The “Bad Guy List” includes a new section entitled “Stay Safe When Doing Dates.” It urges prostitutes who do so-called “car dates” to pick the stop where you want to park ahead of time and if the john won’t go there, the nonprofit urges the woman to jump out of the car.
“When you get into the car to do the date, that is his environment and the area that he controls and so he is going to assert his control very quickly if he’s going to use that against you,” Barber said.
“The cops would have a different opinion of this, that they would prefer them not to engage in this behavior,” she said.
Indeed, Albuquerque police spokesman Fred Duran does not encourage Safe Street’s recommended strategy.
“We don’t encourage the activity to begin with. Prostitution is a problem in Albuquerque,” Duran said.
“That is a dangerous lifestyle. You never know who you’re going to pick up.  You never know who’s around the corner,” he said.
Duran and Barber both agree that crimes committed against prostitutes are under reported.
“All we can do is ask people to come forward and talk to us about what’s going on. If we don’t have a victim that’s going to report what happened, we don’t have an investigation,” he said.
He also noted that the police department has resources for women who want to receive help.
But Barber notes an ongoing issue: “The women don’t trust the police enough to come forward to get them to investigate,” she said.
She said other street outreach organizations in other cities have expressed interest in the “Bad Guy List” concept, including New York, San Francisco and Portland.

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