There have been mixed reactions to our lead story this week. Some have been critical, some dismissive, some readers have expressed pity and there have been some heartwarming offers to help the young woman.
My initial instruction to reporter Lorna Charles was to find someone who worked the streets of Glenwood who would be willing to talk to us. To give us a view from the other side of the fence so to speak. The complaints we have received from local residents, homeowners and businesses in the area about the growing numbers of prostitutes, the degradation of the area and the accompanying filth and health hazards, have grown to a sizable file on my desktop, but we know very little about the women who ply their trade on the street corners and pavements of Umbilo and Glenwood. This was not a search for something sensational, I wasn’t looking for a ‘bleeding heart’ story to shake up sympathetic emotions. I just wanted an honest look at one life on the street. I believe we found it in Sindi’s story.
What has surprised me most of all, and it may be early days as some readers take a while to respond to stories so forgive me if I’m being hasty, is that no one has stopped to ask about landlords who are allegedly renting outbuildings on their properties to prostitutes and their clients by the hour. For me, this is even more obscene than the prostitution itself. These landlords are your neighbours. These landlords live, work and play in your suburb. These landlords know how the majority of the community feels, yet they think nothing of exploiting the situation for self enrichment.
I find it hard to believe that no one has noticed these illicit activities. Surely if a string of women with various men in tow keep walking in and out of a residential property someone must notice? Someone must become suspicious? Someone must say something, share their suspicions? Earlier this week I received an anonymous tip-off about the very situation I have described. The writer explained he had reported the seedy activities of a particular landlord who was in cahoots with a pimp who ran a number of working girls and also dealt in contraband and drugs.
I commend the efforts of community groups who are prepared to stand together and clean up their suburbs by voicing their objections to the wanton prostitution that is carried out on their doorstep. The Bulwer Community Safety Forum has taken up the cudgels and organised an anti-prostitution picket on Saturday, 26 October and has appealed to all residents to join them and let their voices be heard. By the looks of the responses on the group’s Facebook page, residents, fed up with having to deal with this scourge will support the event in numbers. I hope their objections and voices are also heard loudly and clearly by those guilty of profiting off prostitutes by providing venues for their illicit activities.
It is very difficult for a group to fight a problem like prostitution when the problem is being facilitated and enabled from within.