I’m a sexworker and I’m not a victim
sokari // 24 September 2008
In “I’m a sexworker dont take away my livelihood”, Lara responds critically to the “Brothel Report” by the Poppy Project (research into the UK sex industry in London. which goes to great lengths to paint sexworkers as women who are forcibly trafficked, drug addicts, drunken victims of pimps. Lara’s story which is one story but no doubt there are as many Lara’s as there are sexworkers with vastly different experiences challenges this stereotype of sexworker as victim
“I feel obliged to state at this point that I have a good degree from a good university, as so many people assume we do this job because we are poor, uneducated souls. I say “we” because I am not alone – I know many, many women who work the length and breadth of the UK in the same way as I do. I cannot speak for all these women, of course, and I do not intend to try to do so, but suffice it to say that my situation is not an unusual one.”
Lara goes on to explain “her situation” which is probably typical of the majority of working Mums across the country. A situation she was personally unhappy with – long hours away from home, little money to show for the hard work, no time for your kids. She chose to do something different that would enable her to have a better quality of life – work as an “escort” from home. As she explains this is not for everyone but it was done out of choice and she is not a victim to be pitied nor a criminal nor a bad parent.
Escorting seemed like the natural solution. I say “natural” because it felt natural to me. I am well aware that this is not a job everybody could do. But as a sexually-aware and sexually-experienced woman in her mid-30s, the thought of having sex with strangers did not terrify me. I remember thinking that I might even enjoy it (and that has proved to be the case).
I work from a flat on which I pay the mortgage – I do not have any landlord to worry about. I charge £150 per hour and I get enough enquiries to enable me to choose my own working hours
What the Brothel report does is conflate sexworkers like Lara with women who are forced into prostitution through trafficking, pimping and drug addiction. Lara represents many women in the sex industry who have the right to chose how they earn a living without having to live up to some latent Victorian sense of morality that is built on belief that women and sex are dirty. As Lara points out the kind of people who traffic women for prostitution are hardly likely to bother whether prostitution is legal or otherwise. They are already operating illegally by trafficking and abusing women. By criminalising prostitution as opposed to focusing on preventing and prosecuting trafficking AND by failing to support those women who are real victims of crime, more women like Lara are put at risk by having to go underground and of loosing their children. What the Brothel Report doesn’t show is the hypocrisy of the British government towards trafficking victims who when found are in nearly all cases deported back to their home countries where they are once again vulnerable to be trafficked not just back to the UK but other countries across Europe and beyond.