The Atlantic

Collecting DNA From Sex Workers to One Day Identify Their Bodies

Bioethicists studying a small program in Dallas were surprised by what they found.
Source: Mel Evans / AP

Sara Katsanis, a bioethicist at Duke University, studies the complications that arise when DNA databases are used to combat crime, especially human trafficking. If a child is kidnapped and illegally placed into adoption, for example, DNA is a reliable constant for identification. From this work, she is familiar with the ethical questions that come up when a victim is asked to give up their DNA to a database.

But even so—or perhaps, especially—she was surprised to hear of a program initiated by Dallas law enforcement to collect DNA from truck-stop sex workers to solve hypothetical future crimes. The pitch was unusual and, honestly, grim. Sex workers are more likely to be victims of murder, 60 to 100 times than other women, according to some estimates. In Dallas, police were worried about unidentifiable dead bodies that turned up by the side of the highway. (The FBI has warned about serial killers working as truck drivers.) Voluntarily give a DNA sample now, the program promised, and if it’s your dead body, at

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da The Atlantic

The Atlantic7 min lettiAmerican Government
How to Undo One of Trump’s Worst, Most Despicable Policies
As President Joe Biden takes office, his administration will get to work reversing some of the Trump administration’s most controversial and destructive policies, including the elimination of key environmental protections, the creation of new immigra
The Atlantic6 min lettiMedical
Why Kids Might Be Key to Reaching Herd Immunity
A few days after Christmas, Molly Hering, 14, and her brother, Sam, 12, got their first shots as part of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trials for kids. Their mom had heard about a clinical trial being conducted at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and Mo
The Atlantic3 min lettiAmerican Government
‘Unity’ Is Not What America Needs Right Now
President Biden’s pursuit of solidarity is well intentioned. But without concrete plans to hold bad actors accountable, his efforts will be useless.