Why Women Become Sex Workers 343
Other women are forced into sex work. Often women are
tricked into thinking they are going to get jobs or rich husbands
in other countries and are sold into sex work instead. Then it
is almost impossible to stop selling sex. The woman may be in
a new country illegally where she has no rights, no money, and
no way to return home. She may have large debts to repay, or
her employer may threaten to hurt her if she leaves. She has
become a sexual slave.
➤ Because many men
fear they will become
infected with HIV when
they have sex with older
sex workers, there is an
increasing demand for
younger girl children to
work in the sex trade.
This girl was sold by her family,
thinking she would get a job in
another country. Instead, she was
sold again to a brothel owner who
forces her to sell sex.
This woman lost her home and land when her
husband died, because there were no laws
saying his property must be given to his wife.
Now she has no money. She started selling sex
to feed her children.
Two years later, after giving birth to her first child, Nawal had to look for a job.
Her husband was getting less and less work. With no education or skills, she
tried working as a house cleaner in an apartment building. But she stopped
when the building guards refused to introduce her to customers unless she had
sex with them.
Nawal does not use the word ‘prostitute’ to describe herself. She refers to
herself as a servant. She knows she has to save money for her children: “I want
my children to go to school so that they don’t grow up to be criminals.”
Because her work is not considered ‘real’ work, Nawal, and thousands of
women like her, get no help from the government or the police. Nawal has been
robbed several times, but no one would help her. Officially, she does not exist.
And the thing that really puzzles her is that a lot of people think that she enjoys
sex work. She does not. She just does not know any better way to survive.
—from an interview by Ahmed Badawi
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012