The Humanist interview (2012)
Kontext: If someone wants to be called a sex worker, I call them a sex worker. But there is a problem with that term, because while it was adopted in goodwill, traffickers have taken it and essentially said, “Okay, if it’s work like any other, somebody has to do it.” In Nevada, there was a time when you couldn’t get unemployment unless you tried sex work first. The same was true in Germany. So the state became a procurer because of the argument that sex is work like any other. This is not a good thing.
I also do not feel proud when I stand in the Sonagachi, the biggest brothel area in all of South Asia. It’s in Kolkata, and everything is written in Bengali except “SEX WORK.” And the term is used in various sinister ways by sex traffickers, who even describe what they do — which is to kidnap or buy people out of villages — as “facilitated migration.”
I’ve only ever met one woman who actually was a prostitute of her own free will. She didn’t have a pimp. She could pick and choose her customers. That’s so rare. So we have to look at the reality and not romanticize it. We have to be clear that you have the right to sell your own body but nobody has the right to sell anybody else’s body. No one has that right.