A Holiday Prayer
By Stanley Campbell
A Holiday Prayer
I pray for those forgotten people in our communitythose people who are used, beaten and forgotten, if not arrested and thrown in jail.
I pray for the women on the street on Seventh Street in particular, but I pray for any woman who has to sell her body to make some money. Unfortunately, most of the money goes to a bartender, drug company, pusher or pimp.
There are people who care. Crusader Clinic, the Winnebago County Health Department, some private doctors and nurses, and a small staff and volunteers at Harm Reduction Outreach (604 Seventh St.) care. They hand out condoms, do medical exams, serve coffee and host a drop-in center.
Harm Reduction means trying to reduce the harm that people do to themselves. You eat too much. Some smoke too much. Lots drink too much. Well, my friends, some people take too many drugs and engage in unsafe sex. Should they die because some of you have no spirit of forgiveness?
In this spirit of giving, can you give a little slack to the women (and men) who prostitute themselves?
How about giving them a cup of coffee, some shampoo, a little Christmas cheer? How about supporting Harm Reduction Outreach in their work, especially if you dont want to go down to Seventh Street?
I dont blame you. I live on Seventh Street, and there are nights when danger lurks. The women know. Maybe its the season, or the war, but some johns are beating up the women they pick up off the street.
Theres little a street sex provider (thats the PC term) can do, especially if shes accosted while performing illegal acts. Its the risk they take to make money, and it aint pretty.
During this holiday season, some guys are gonna act like idiots, and those bars on Seventh Street are gonna make lots of money. Theres a connection there, but we are too busy collecting sales taxes to shut those places of ill repute down (theyre all legitimate businesses). Meanwhile, many of the ladies will spend their money on addictives (both legal and not), get beaten, spread disease, maybe die.
Heres wishing you a wonderful holiday, and I hope you can do something special for yourself and your family and your community.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Minsitries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.