How the Jack the Ripper industry distorts London’s East End – Tansy Hoskins – The Guardian

Infamous criminality is often glorified in society, but it’s difficult to know why. This article gives an insight into the tourism brought to the East End of London by the fascination for ‘Jack the Ripper’ who brutally murdered five prostitutes, in the 19th century.

The author – Tansy Hoskins – starts by explaining the attraction of going to visit the sites of such atrocities. She sheds bad light on the industry by saying: “[it] is built upon crude portrayals of the East End, and of degrading and victim-blaming depictions of sex workers.”

To set up the article, Hoskins uses rhetorical questions in her second paragraph. This also evokes inquisition and helps to creates a negative depiction in the readers’ minds.

Soon after, she interestingly gets the perspective of modern day sex workers, by speaking to a spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) amongst others. This dialogue is imperative to the piece as it induces sympathy from the reader.

Recounts such as this: “rape and torture, let alone the murder of women, shouldn’t be fetishised into an intriguing murder mystery – I know about violence. I’ve been raped and robbed.” provide a degree of humanity and realism.

After laying out the problem and bringing in various viewpoints, Hoskins adds some colour. She describes the change since the 1880s: “houses once over-crowded with some of the poorest people in London are now exorbitantly expensive and form the edge of Liverpool Street’s financial district.” thus implying the futility of going to visit what barely still exists.

The article is aptly rounded up with an interview quote which links back to the author’s dismay at East London’s obsession with a vile criminal: “Who was Jack the Ripper – who cares? It’s the victims who died that should be remembered.”

I am a big fan of the article and am equally intrigued into why it is we still celebrate villains such as Jack the Ripper, Charles Bronson and The Krays. The article is well conducted and the interviews used offer a unique insight into the effect it has on society.


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