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Sex workers: we want rights, not rescue

Media boasts about people being trafficked and ending up working as sex workers for decades. They were and are wrong in most cases. And it’s very saddening to realize this, because my life can be seriously affected by these poorly researched articles written by journalists with an agenda or who claim to have a moral right to tell others how to live their lives.

alejandra berlin drinkingThe point here, I guess, it’s that my life has never been affected by the work I do and I’ve been providing sexual services for the past 5 years in Germany and other countries in UE. Not any more than your life has been affected as a doctor, politician, lawyer or teacher. There are some health risks involved, but those are extremely slim; you are taking more health risks as a surgeon or psychiatrist who is working with refugees and people with mental problems than I am. You are more likely (read tempted or in the position) to do something against the law or a mistake that involves the wellbeing of others as a politician or lawyer than I am. And you can certainly do more damage to families when you are not a teacher by vocation and you do it for the money alone, than I can do.

I don’t know how else to explain it to you, so you can take your hands off my body and mind your own body. I do not want to be rescued – there is nothing you can rescue me from. Unless you can pay me as much money as I make in one week, please keep your rescuing bullshite to yourself.

I don’t want a steady job, I want more money.

I don’t want your moral lessons, I want respect and the right to decide for myself what I can do with my body.

I don’t want your silly talks about the risks involved, I’m pretty sure I know more than you at this point (unless you’re a specialized doctor), I want free condoms and access to health research.

I don’t want protection from pimps (it’s not my case, really), I want working rights and access to medication, a free hand to advertise my business and – for Christ’s sake! – some fucking respect wouldn’t hurt, most people are getting it because they’re people, not because they do jobs that have respect embedded in them.

We want rights, not rescue. We want to be treated like human beings who are adults, rational and able to make decisions.

Some countries decriminalized prostitution to discover that no planet disappeared after this, children didn’t suddenly become victims of a risky industry and the rest of the adult female population had no actual reason to fear the legal existence of the sex workers, on the contrary. Because once things are in the daylight and we can discuss openly about them, we can ultimately educate people what’s what, including about the risks involved and the potential benefits for those not directly involved. This also means that it’s not the sex workers’ allies and especially not those who haven’t got a single clue about this industry and the people who decide to do this type of work, that should be at the forefront of the debate about sex working and its legislation. It’s the sex workers themselves who should make the decisions regarding their own safety and standards and it’s them who the legislator should ask when providing services to them and to the public at large – in relation to this type of work, be those health related, educational or social.

Personally, I’m surprised that the debate is still on after so many years, considering the vast research information that’s available everywhere. But, you know, debating issues is what we do; so far the best argument not to legalize it is on the ethical side of things, which certainly doesn’t solve shite. When some religious moron tells you that you don’t own your body or that you don’t get to decide what you can do with it, even that stance falls apart.

[Later edit: small typos corrections]

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