March 16, 2010
NO DOUBT there are some readers who don’t much care about the welfare of women who engage in street sex work in our cities. Street prostitution is a reality that middle Australia prefers to ignore, or just to condemn outright. And that’s where the trouble begins.
If the subject is raised at all, the debate tends to focus on how this highly visible form of prostitution lowers the tone of a neighbourhood (subtext: how it threatens the inexorable rise of property values).
Such is our disregard of the issue that in Melbourne, while the media has been strident and hysterical about rising levels of street violence, the continuing issue of violence towards street sex workers has been all but ignored. Yet violence – sexual and physical assault, verbal abuse and harassment – is a ceaseless, daily part of the lives of the women who work our streets. I suspect that many mean-spirited moralists out there actually believe that ”working girls” deserve no better.
Running in the Shadows
October 27, 2009
By IAN URBINA
ASHLAND, Ore. — She ran away from her group home in Medford, Ore., and spent weeks sleeping in parks and under bridges. Finally, Nicole Clark, 14 years old, grew so desperate that she accepted a young man’s offer of a place to stay. The price would come later.
They had sex, and he soon became her boyfriend. Then one day he threatened to kick her out if she did not have sex with several of his friends in exchange for money.
She agreed, fearing she had no choice. “Where was I going to go?” said Nicole, now 17 and living here, just down the Interstate from Medford. That first exchange of money for sex led to a downward spiral of prostitution that lasted for 14 months, until she escaped last year from a pimp who she said often locked her in his garage apartment for months. Continue reading
Oct 15th 2009
From The Economist print edition
The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital. By Dan Cruickshank. Random House: 688 pages; £25. Buy from Amazon.co.uk
"Connoisseurs" by Thomas Rowlandson
AS MANY as one in five young women were prostitutes in 18th-century London. The Covent Garden that tourists frequent today was the centre of a vast sex trade strewn across hundreds of brothels and so-called coffee houses. Fornication in public was common and even children were routinely treated for venereal disease. A German visitor observed a nation that had overstepped all others “in immorality and addiction to debauchery”.
English society expected, even encouraged, men to pay for sex. Prejudice barred women from all but menial jobs. Prostitution at least offered financial independence: a typical harlot could earn in a month what a tradesman or clerk would earn in a year. For a few beautiful and savvy women, the gamble paid off. Lavinia Fenton, a child prostitute, married a duke. But most prostitutes were destined for disease, despair and early death. Continue reading