Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Misery of the ‘oldest profession’


PROSTITUTE Sam was just 15 when she walked the streets for the first time. She had been beaten several times by punters and spent two years in jail after she tried to rob a bank. But she doesn’t have any desire to get out of the game. Matheos Messakh reports…

BORN in Glasgow, Sam now knows Nottingham’s streets like the back of her hand. After all, she was worked as a prostitute on Mappeley Road, Cranmers Street, Villa Road, and Paddington Street for the last 13 years.

Now she mainly works St Ann’s Hill Road, in the up hill part of the city which is home to drugs pushers and hookers desperate to earn enough for their next hit on smack.

The 28-year-old has been through a lot in her life. She spent seven years in Sheffield, was married and had a baby, got divorced, and then spent two years in jail after a failed attempt to rob a bank.

She has been attacked by punters half-a-dozen times. Her 6ft frame is seriously emaciated due to lack of food. She is gaunt with dead eyes and lank unwashed hair.

Her tale is tragically familiar: an abused wife, divorce without trial and proper treatment from social service, an addiction, and no future. Sitting in the bench on the garden beside Elm Primary School, she tells me what it’s like to work on the street.

“A lot of my punters are men who live alone, aren’t getting it off their wife.

“Students also take me. I do also a lot of black and Asian. Once I get to know them, I get a lot of regulars. They pick me up all the time to go to their houses. Some have been connected with me for years.”

Sam charges around £10-20 for full sex. , She earns up to £100 a night but it all goes on crack cocaine in a day.

“I work whenever I need enough for my next fix, but everything I earn is spent on getting my next fix. Sometimes that means working all day and night.

“I let them do whatever they want as long as they give me money. Some even pay to rape me.”

I ask about the attack. “Men think because I’m a prostitute I’m no better than an animal,” she says. Some attacks were because the punters tried to steal back the money after we’d done the business. Another guy beat me if I wasn’t give proper service.

Sometimes, I do get scared, but what can I do? I am addicted and I need money.

“The only way I can make my self brave is to think that I have been in the game too long to worry.”

When she has enough money, Sam sometimes enjoys the luxury of trips to Doncaster, Sheffield, Glasgow or Manchester. But she says she never had a dream to get out of the game.

“Everything has got a price. A husband who goes go to work, so he can get nice clothes for his wife and buys everything. His money always pays for sex, even with his wife. That probably costs than more.


The well-worn cliché calls prostitution ‘the oldest profession’ and there is plenty of historical evidence that men have been paying for sex for thousands of years. Prostitution may not be the very oldest way for women to earn a living, but it's not easy to think of a female career option that’s been around longer.

A Channel 4 survey on prostitution explores the hypocrisy and prejudice towards the profession, the physical brutality and questions the existing laws governing prostitution.

The survey says a new law aimed at stamping out prostitution has left Britain’s estimated 30,000 street prostitutes even more vulnerable to attack.

The Criminal Justice and Police Act which introduced in October 2000 gave the police extra powers to arrest, detain, and take the DNA of curb crawlers. The logic behind the law is simple: scare off the men and the women will go out of business.

However, the investigation that took almost a year and involved interviewing 110 street prostitutes in 18 towns and cities shows a terrifying pattern of violence.

Nearly three quarters of the women interviewed said they had been attacked by clients in the previous 12 months. Just under two thirds had been raped or seriously beaten, sometimes at gun point.

Three quarters of the women don’t report attacks because they don’t think the police will care. The flaw is that men still want to buy sex, but they are far more nervous of the police. Punters want to leave the red light area immediately, so the women don’t have time to check them out before jumping in a car and also agree to ‘do business’ in more isolated locations where no one can hear them scream.

Three quarters of prostitutes surveyed said they took more risks as a result of police crackdowns and over two thirds said they worked longer hours. When punters were in short supply as a result of a high police presence, a quarter agreed to sexual services they’d normally refuse, like sex without a condom.

Only two women left prostitution altogether as a result of police crackdowns, since most are working to fund drug addictions. Over 90 per cent of street prostitutes in many cities have heroin or crack habits, often costing over £500 a week.

The prostitutes said their attackers were largely ordinary, local men. Fifty per cent of the women surveyed were attacked by men in smart cars, with good jobs and incomes who seemed respectable.

Call girls, hookers, brass, whores… call them whatever you like. They all make money the same way. But while others can make a conscious decision to sell their bodies for a better standard of living, most of them on the street have little choice. Their circumstances may differ, but they’ve all offering the most primal of services, to get inside your pocket.[*]

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