SCOT-PEP statement on the conviction of Bala Chinda for the murder for Jessica McGraa

SCOT-PEP statement on the conviction of Bala Chinda for the murder for Jessica McGraa
 
We are relieved by this conviction. However, it is hard to see it as justice: justice should be Jessica alive, safe, and happy. We are praying that this conviction can bring some peace to those who are mourning Jessica. Her family – particularly her young son who so tragically and unfairly lost his mother – and friends are in our thoughts and hearts.
 
We would like to thank the sex workers who braved huge personal risks to testify at this trial. Being outed in the press is traumatic, life-changing and hard and you took those risks for Jessica, to hold her killer to account. SCOT-PEP is incredibly grateful to you. We would also like to thank the women who supported sex workers when they went to Aberdeen to testify. The care you showed to the witnesses speaks to the bonds of community that sustain sex workers through these intensely difficult experiences. 
 
During the trial it was highlighted that Jessica, when in fear of her life, had called a friend rather than risk calling the police. This is a heartbreaking detail in a heartbreaking case. SCOT-PEP reiterates that the high level of enforcement of brothel-keeping laws forced sex workers in Aberdeen work alone, meaning that they are very vulnerable to violent men like Chinda. 
 
That Jessica feared the consequences of contacting the police, even when in fear for her life, makes clear how profound the impact of this police enforcement was on sex workers and their safety. It is long past the time for the Scottish Government to gather their courage and change the law to make it possible for small groups of sex workers to share a flat for their own safety, without risking arrest. 
 
Finally, we note with horror an atrocious comment from the defence counsel in his closing remarks. He asked the court why Chinda would rape Jessica, "when she is in the business". This is an example of the hateful idea that sex workers can't be raped. It is also an example of the misogynist idea that rape is primarily about sex rather than about power. That this could be acceptable in a court of law in Scotland in 2017 speaks to the multitude of ways in which the criminal justice system harms sex workers, women, and sex working women. That this kind of thinking is still present in the criminal justice system illustrates why sex workers remain vulnerable to harm – a harsh irony to find this reminder in this case. 
 
The love the entire SCOT-PEP community goes out to all affected by this unjust loss.