Something rotten is going on in the Bronx and not many people are noticing. Last month, New York City councilman Andy King publicly voiced his worries about teenage girls in the Bronx. Sine July 2014, 14 Bronx girls have gone missing and six of them went missing in the month of June alone. The girls were between 12-19 and all black or Hispanic. King said in a statement per Daily News, “Ever other week our young girls are just vanishing off our streets. Something is going on. They are attractive girls. How do you get the numbers vanishing?” Fearing prostitution or a Castro-Cleveland situation; the Internet voiced its fears over a potential forced prostitution ring. But then bizarrely, King released a small statement later on in the day, saying his words were false and 11 out of the 14 girls are safely home.
According to the second Daily News article, the mishap was over errors in the missing person list. The girls, who returned home, were not removed from the list, leading King to believe the girls were still missing. Anyone else a bit perplexed? Let's dissect this, because King's brief statement suggesting this was just a technical error is not enough to brush aside serious worries about what is going on in the Bronx.
In a best-case scenario, perhaps the girls ran away from home for various reasons and 11 of them are indeed, "safe and sound." Then after the press release, the girls' parents saw their daughters' pictures on the news and called NYPD to let them know their daughters are no longer missing. If this was the case, the police and the media did not dig into any potential reasons why so many girls are running away.
Despite popular notions, girls don't just “run away” for fun or to start a new life, as discussed in The Frisky. Many of the officials brushed aside these girls' disappearances and excused it with, “she ran off with her boyfriend.” But according to the Selah Movement, many girls who “run away” are sexually abused as children. Children do not run away from safe environments, especially not six in one month. If these were consensual run aways and not trafficked cases, then there needs to be an examination into the lives of Black and Hispanic girls in the Bronx.
However, the technical error in the missing person list is difficult to swallow. Surely, a councilman would have contacted the families before he made a public statement? And the brief statement failed to mention whether the girls returned home after the report or if they were already home when the report went live. The Daily News just says, “the girls are safe and back home.” I have to wonder if there would be a lot more information and outrage if these girls were white and middle class.
And what about the remaining three girls? Ashley Bissal, a 16-year-old girl, was last seen on June 23, at a graduation party for her boyfriend in the Bronx Botanical Gardens. She is still missing and her story was recently picked up by NBC, as her parents are desperate to spread awareness and find their daughter.
There are so many unanswered questions in this case. It is unclear if these girls are "safe and home" or if they are still missing, as well as whether or not "home" is actually safe. There is one thing clear: the lack of information on these cases is alarming. All young girls should have access to protection, not just ones whose lives are deemed valuable.
Please see below for more information on Ashley Bissal:
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Patricia is a writer, activist, and aspiring journalist. She likes writing about politics, sexuality, and feminism. She is a bit of a wanderer and has lived in Morocco, Australia, and India. Recently moved to Brooklyn, she is currently learning to navigate NYC subways.