Trigger warning: References to rape and sexual violence throughout the post.
Before I start this very personal and radical statement, I will provide some context or at least some words that explain why I will not shut up.
To be a prostitute is to know isolation. Isolation from friends and allies, who cannot fully empathise or listen with openness to our realities.
Part of the stealing of our dignity is that we are not allowed to speak as independent and separate voices. Instead, we are treated as children or kept in a ‘victim’ role. Our words and truths are translated into language that is acceptable to our allies.
What prevents those of us, who have exited prostitution, from reclaiming our dignity is not just by the usual suspects but sadly also those who consider themselves our allies.
Our rawness is tamed, our sense of deep and profound connections to our experiences are made simple and tidy. Our words describing hell are made to be palatable, our knowledge of male violence is dismissed.
Part of this silencing comes from the constant lessening of our truths by comparing it to other forms of gender-based violence. Yes, prostitution is connected to rape, to domestic violence and sexual harassment but what is minimised is the degree and the scale of violence in the prostitution trade.
The prostituted face the norm of being raped by so many punters that they cannot count them without losing the will to live. To be a full-time, long- term prostituted woman is to be raped by hundreds or thousands of nameless punters. To be prostituted is to know that your rape is called ‘work’ or a ‘risk’ on the job.
Sexual harassment at work is viewed as a serious issue for the non-prostituted. Often, there can be tribunals or union involvement. Sexual harassment in prostitution is the daily routine. Our bodies are there to be grabbed, to be fucked over, to be forced to every sick fantasy that sex trade profiteers and punters can dream of.
There is no aspect of prostitution where beating is not the norm. And when punters or sex trade profiteers decide to batter or more likely torture us, it is of no importance. It’s as if nothing is happening to nobody.
Various forms of violence are used to break her down mentally and deny her of her agency. This involves making her think no-one outside prostitution cares about her, that she has no friends or family. It means placing her in constant fear of violence or worse, death, until she learns to tolerate the unacceptable ordeals of rape and torture. It can involve branding her, so she is marked as the goods of her pimp. It can involve moving her around and using increasing violence to disorient her.
When we talk about prostitution, we must treat it with the same urgency as torture or genocide or other human rights violations because that is what it is. A violation of our human rights.
This is what has caused some of my anger, my pain, my grief. Even though I am proud to be an exited woman, proud of my struggle, to not perceive these aspects of the sex trade as a human rights violation, robs me off my right to be considered fully human.
If people want to be better allies to survivors of prostitution, it’s important that this movement is centred on our voices and the reality that this trade is abuse.
When exited women are truly leaders in the Abolitionist movement and not constantly tamed or silenced, then we can build a radical movement.
When our allies listen to our deep wisdom and knowledge of male violence, of understanding complex trauma, of making connections between history, cultures and the public gaze, then we can build a movement that embodies justice.
We need more than the Nordic Model as an approach to ending prostitution. We need the radical change of fully listening to the needs of the prostituted even when it goes against the interests of those who claim to be our ‘allies’.
Until we are listened to and not spoken over or on behalf of, the culture of oppression persists.
I do not see the prostituted as having freedom of speech. Instead, I see and hear the words of the prostituted being framed as sex work, empowerment and even feminism.
I do not see freedom of movement for the prostituted. Instead, I see the constant movement of the prostituted into more violence, to submerge them into deep silence.
I see the conditions of trafficking enabled by those who frame this trade as sex work.
I see no right to safety for any prostitute in any country that chooses to normalise the sex trade.
So, I see and I know that I must keep writing because I live in a world that claims the prostituted are not human, just fuckable goods.
I write coz to survive prostitution is to carry ghosts that demand a voice.
I write because silence is a living death and I hope with every ache of my heart, my blog helps to give many exited women some words to their deadly silence.
My blog is my mission, it is more than work – it is a scream, a plea, a demand that all sex trade must be eradicated. I am proud that I have become unstoppable but also deeply saddened and shocked that I need to write this blog.
We have been murdered, tortured and raped for the past 4,000-5000 years. Our cries of pain, of sorrow have been repressed and silenced. Our torture is an appendix when it comes to human rights.
We are furious.
We are a revolution, whether you like it or not.
Rebecca Mott is an activist, writer and survivor of the prostitution trade. Her experience in prostitution started at the age of 14 and continued until she was 27. She has been documenting her experiences for over 10 years and frequently writes on her blog. She campaigns for the abolition of prostitution.
If you would like to make a donation for her ongoing work, you can donate via the Paypal account here.
More links on Rebecca’s work can be found below:
BBC Radio Four, Four Thought talk
European Women’s Lobby testimony
Nordic Model Now blog
Rebecca can be contacted via Twitter: @RebeccaMott15