NYT Profile of Bronx Prostitute: A Survivor

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It’s difficult to know what to make of the 52, and Still Working the Streets, a “Character Study” in the December 30, 2011 edition of the New York Times.  Reporter Corey Kilgannon profiles Ms. Barbara Terry, a 52 year-old prostitute in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx.

On the one hand, the profile appears to imply, “Hey, being a street prostitute isn’t so bad!”  The reporter notes that Ms. Terry has been a prostitute for 30 years, that she “hopes to retire in a year or so to a house she bought upstate” and that she put two children through college.  On the other hand, Mr. Kilgannon observes that Ms. Terry no longer has all of her teeth (“lost to diabetes, Ms.  Terry says”), and reminds readers of a series of sexual assaults and rapes of Bronx prostitutes last year (news coverage here).

Unfortunately, the profile doesn’t explain the “bad accident” that left Ms. Terry “hospitalized with a broken jaw and neck injuries.”  And there’s mention of Ms. Terry’s arrest record.  The reporter records Ms. Terry’s advice to younger prostitutes about “how to jump in a Dumpster to hide from the police, and how to stay alive. First, never enter a car with more than one person in it, and never let someone drive you out of the area. Get your money up front — Ms. Terry charges $50 or $100 — and try to work with a buddy.”

-Bridget Crawford

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