• bellygirlfilms

    This is a really interesting, important aspect of the whole sex workers rights movement. I spent 6 years making a documentary about feminists in the adult entertainment/sex industry, called "Our Bodies, Our Minds." Making that film was really a formative experience for me in terms of how I thought about feminism, gender, and the strength of women whose experiences differed greatly from my own. The film, which was completed in 2001 is only just now available on home video – (DVD – http://www.bellygirl.com & download available on Amazon.com) Just thought you might be interested, even though it does focus solely on American sex workers.

  • bridgett-jensen

    I believe that all people should have rights, regardless of their chosen professions, but how does one distinguish between a sex-worker choosing to work in a field and a sex-slave, a woman or child trafficked into the sex-trade?

    Would you define all women in prostitution-related work as sex-workers?

  • vineeta

    “half of 375 arrested sex workers chose rehabilitation over being charged with prostitution, but only 21 of those who went through the rehabilitation program had left the business upon follow up.”

    This does not indicate these women wanted to be prostitutes, and it is unfair to suggest it is. As a counselor for domestic violence victims, I have encountered many women trapped in abusive, exploitive situations unable to escape without multiple attempts and serious, integrated assistance.

    It is my understanding that the overwhelming majority of sex workers around the world, around 90 percent, say what they want is help getting out. Though it’s possible Indian sex workers could break with the global trend, there’s currently no confirmation that more than 50 percent of Indian sex workers want to stay in the sex industry or would rather leave it for something else. Hopefully collecting that data will be SANGRAM’s next project.

  • audacia-ray

    Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s always simple to define what is "chosen" work and what is not. Anyone under the age of consent cannot by law be defined as being in the industry by choice, but for adults it can be a little tricky. Identifying victims of trafficking can be a bit of a process, but there is some decent information here: http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/human_trafficking/brochure.html

    Also, a note on some definitions – prostitution is not the only form of sex work. Rather, "sex work" is an umbrella term for many different experiences within the sex industry, which may include stripping, domination, phone sex, porn, and many other kinds of work, many of which do not include intercourse. Also, women are not the only people who work in the sex industry, though concern is usually directed at women and children. There are many trans people and men who work in the industry as well. I would define all people making their living in the sex industry by choice or circumstance as sex workers. People who have been trafficked into the sex industry (or domestic labor or the agriculture business) against their will, who are not keeping their earnings or choosing what happens to the money they make, are not workers. 

  • claudine-oleary

    First of all – thank you for your insights Audacia. I work with U.S. teens in the sex trade and I’ve been struggling with the rescue mentality for many years now. I particularly like your point with the title in that sex workers are not voiceless. Just because people are not listening, does not mean people aren’t speaking. 


    But on the above comment, I think Audacia was trying to point out that even very determined exit programs fail to provide the kind of assistance that some people need in exiting sex work. I think this has a lot to do with systemic problems. For example, a 60% unemployment rate in many areas where I live and work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin can’t be changed by a nonprofit program. So while people talk up exit programs, the evaluations show a low success rate. Which many people figure out how to blame on individual womens’ character or on select abusive people’s control (funny how people are quick to name pimps though and not the people who control our economic system or have kicked you out of your home)


    People make conscious decisions (part of our agency/ability) about what makes sense to us. Many exit programs in the U.S. require you to be under enormous scrutiny for lengthy periods of time. Given that or doing a 60 day bid in jail, I’m not surprised many "choose" jail. Just another complicated choice people are making to make their way in the world. The existence of a rescue or exit-focused program can not be the primary solution to exploitation and everyone would do well to listen to more than just the people who confirm your worldview.

  • vineeta

    Thanks for your feedback. I see where you’re coming from but disagree with your interpretation. Audacia’s statement following that quote doesn’t ask for better exit programs, it criticizes the very concept of helping women exit by framing men exploiting them sexually as the women’s "choices or circumstances."

    “Despite these numbers and testimonies by sex workers about the problems with rescue and rehabilitation programs, getting sex workers out of sex work is widely posited as the way to end exploitation. The exercise of human rights should not be contingent on whether or not you think a person’s choices or circumstances are a good way to live or be.”

    There is no information on how many sex workers in India would like to choose legal prostitution if given a chance.
    Audacia mentions a South African rehabilitation program that failed to help even one woman get out of prostitution. But that failure doesn’t acknowledge the 89 percent of South African sex workers who answered an interviewer’s question, "What do you need?" with "to leave prostitution." 75 percent of South African sex workers said they needed job training and only 37 percent said they needed prostitution legalized.
    Indian sex worker’s answers to the question "What do you need?" is what we need to proceed in good faith.

  • wildthing

    I would say the interest in the question of whether they want to be doing what they are doing answers the question. It should be legalized and should be available to woman as well as men like Heidi Fleiss was unsuccessful at doing.

  • ricky

    I won’t be part of a movement that only goes half way, working to make it nicer to be a slave. Fancy trying that with ensalved Blacks in the past century. They deserved full personhood not nicer slave quarters. So too do sexually abused women. I wonder how someone uncleToming the freedom movement would have been viewed? I regard so-called rights workers who are trying to do this with sexually abused women as "uncleToms". Who is directing this initiative? From my experience, it didn’t have its inception with the women. It’s a pimped effort.
    I also note your reference to "abstinence". Huh? The whole world is not the U.S.A. Why do you distill every advocacy down to your nation’s political dysfunction?

    Good reading here, of the opinion from a formerly enslaved sexually abused woman. Note the perspective from when she was still abused and enslaved, to now. 



  • ricky

    I would also add that I do not know a sexually abused (prostituted) woman who would not gleefully choose abstinence. But she doesn’t get to make the choice about what she does with her life. No matter what spin you put on it, she’s an enslaved human being.
    Most sickening is that part of what keeps these women enslaved is the view of so-called feminists that these abused women are behaving out of "agency" or "choice" and making "empowerful" decisions about their lives.


    I have been both a prostituted woman and a journalist. I can say unequivocally the reason you are getting called upon by media is because you are carrying water for the sex-abuse industry. There’s nothing that boosts ratings like a woman putting a positive spin on the sex slave industry. 





  • cmarie

    I’m sure pimps (whether male of female, in India or the U.S.A) would fall all over themselves telling you how enlightened you are.  But, please consider that for every pimp there are hundreds of women who are exploited and abused.

Mobile Theme