[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 December 2006, 13:01 GMT
Prostitutes speak of their ordeals
Prostitutes from across the world have been writing to the BBC News website about their lives following the murders of five prostitutes in eastern England.

Here we publish some of their e-mails while protecting their identities. Readers are warned that some of the accounts contain graphic language or details.

'PAID TO BE RAPED' - SAN FRANCISCO, US

I am an ex-prostitute. Articles which make the [protected] car parks [for prostitutes and their clients in the Netherlands] sound so "cosy", infuriate me because they do not tell the full story. Some of those girls in the Amsterdam car parks are servicing up to 100 men a night with devastating impacts upon their bodies and emotions.

Maybe there is really no escape from this rape prison called prostitution?

Prostitution is serial rape of our bodies. From a personal perspective I can say that not just the physical damage but the emotional and spiritual damage caused by prostitution is tremendous and it never goes away.

To this day, I have physical problems and my emotional problems will fill a book.

When I was in it, getting out seemed impossible because my sense of self-worth was non-existent.

I have no solution as long as men pay to do this terrible thing to us.

For all of you non-prostitutes out there talking about us women who have sold sex, you have to realise that the damage to us is massive. Financial help, a few encouraging words, won't do it. Sticking us in 'tolerance zones' won't do it. Maybe ongoing psychological care, over a period of many years, will help? I don't know. Maybe there is really no escape from this rape prison called prostitution?

ATTACKED IN A PARLOUR - LONDON, UK

[Some say you are] are safe working from a "parlour". Not so! I was attacked when I worked in one, no-one there did anything about it, the guy wasn't even ejected from the premises for about 30 minutes! I have before and after this worked the "streets" too and yes have had some awful experiences.

I now work for myself, from my home. I think being independent with no pimp, boss or such like is the only way and the best way.

CONDOMS FORBIDDEN - KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

I work as a part-time prostitute in Kuala Lumpur.

Over here, we have to engage our services through an agent, whose contacts include 5-star hotels.

We are often kept in the hotel itself and sometimes abused if we do not comply with our customers' needs. Malaysia is a Muslim country and there's no room for any complaints. There's no safety or precautionary checks by the health authorities and furthermore we are strictly told to perform oral sex without condoms.

'EVERYONE IS FLAWED' - UNITED KINGDOM

I have worked in the sex industry for the last 30 years. Most of this time has been spent working in massage parlours and private flats.

When I first started I tried the streets but found the experience terrifying. Massage parlours suit me the most because of the safety aspects and because my work day feels companionable.

Yes, I pay for the privilege of being there but we all charge the same fees and we have fewer customers attempting to not pay. None of the girls I work with are addicts, just your average women who have chosen to be prostitutes.

There will always be girls who want to work on the streets. Very often their lifestyles are so chaotic they wouldn't cope with the discipline of working inside. Their lives are difficult and most people despise them.

Just remember, all of you, that 97% of punters are married or in long-term relationships. If these men weren't eager to have some sort of sexual experience with us then we would all vanish. They are someone's father, son, husband as we are someone's mother, sister and even wife.

All of us are flawed human beings exactly the same as anyone else.

TRAUMATISED BY ARREST - NEW YORK, US

I used to work as a gay escort in New York City. I work on my own. I used to advertise on the internet and I have my own website.

Well, maybe in the USA the human body doesn't belong to the human being and belongs to the government?

What happens in the US is really preposterous. The cops aren't worried about your safety at all.

They simply call sex workers who advertise in newspapers, magazines, and even on the internet. They call as a client to make a fake "appointment" and when they arrive they arrest us.

Afterwards, the cops are gonna take your fingerprints and you are gonna have a record for the rest of your life, because you got arrested for working as a "prostitute" - not on the streets, but at the privacy of your home.

Here in the USA they don't care for us, they don't protect us, they don't give a damn at all, they call us to arrest us.

I myself have been arrested. That's a terrible experience. I got traumatised. Wow... Being arrested for that.. for selling my body. I believe that my body is my property and I do what I wanna do. Well, maybe in the USA the human body doesn't belong to the human being and belongs to the government?

SAFETY CHECKS - LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

I worked as a male prostitute - and as a stripper - in London for 10 years. In both cases the work and the clients were screened by the relevant agency.

Working as a stripper, my agency took a 15% cut and paid tax and VAT to the government.

When I was working as an escort, my agency took 50% of my earnings and the government got nothing but at least they screened the client, requiring a landline phone number, credit card details, etc.

Brothels and pimps (or agencies) should be legalised and heavily regulated. That way neither sex workers nor their clients will get ripped off and the government can take its slice for tax revenue (and for policing).

'HYPOCRITES' - LOS ANGELES, US

In Los Angeles I operated massage parlours, escort services, rap studios and dance studios which in realistic terms are pseudonyms for brothels.

Only a small percentage of working girls were addicted to drugs or victimised by violence.

The businesses operate under pseudonyms because prostitution is illegal in California.

However, a large percentage of clients were a cross-section of lawyers, city administrators, law enforcement officers and businessmen.

It is ironic that the people who use the services and benefit from prostitution are the same people in the USA that beat the drum against prostitution.

VIOLENCE EXPECTED - LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

I've worked as a prostitute myself, on the street, for three years. Making prostitution legal would simply create an underclass of women (and men) who cannot, for reasons of drug habits, age or others, work in your brothels. What then? Our fault when we're attacked, murdered?

The punters are the problem. Prostitution, apart from professional boxing, is the only job where people fully expect you to accept serious physical violence every day without complaint. That's not the prostitutes' fault - it's the fault of the messed-up punters.

Solving the problem of violence against sex workers goes much deeper than just creating 'tolerance zones' where women (and men) can be legally ignored day in and day out.




FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific