(Written Summer 2013)
This is, originally, two comments from The Journal, but it is all so important, and, honestly, took so much out of me to write that I am posting it here:
I am a former sex worker seeking support…I want support to help me overcome the damage Ruhama have done to me over the past 20 years and help me prevent them silencing people like me and setting up frauds to speak for me.
For the past 12 months or so we have Rachel Moran running around claiming to be a “survivor of underage prostitution”. I know for a fact at least a significant part (the part where she was underage) of her story is wholly untrue, simple because I was in the places she claimed to be and she, most definitely, was not. I have been offering sworn testimony to every affected NGO, and each individual member of the Justice committee, repeatedly over that time…
NOT ONE PERSON has even acknowledged let alone queried me enough to run the most basic, factual checks that would prove her lies once and for all, I have never even been offered the opportunity to give sworn testimony to my claim. On the basis of her lies, Moran is making a fortune out the relevant NGOs and pretty much dictating legislation.
Given ALL of the I have to ask myself whether Samantha Azzopardi (the GPO girl) was given a chance to con the relevant authorities before they conned themselves into believing they finally had a real live trafficked sex slave to trot out as “evidence”.
We are evolving a culture of lies and propaganda that has lost sight of the most basic rules of evidence. Moran is the bee in my bonnet because it is *my* life, and people *I* knew she is reinventing to order…but I will guarantee she is not the only fraud being carried shoulder high by the voluntary and community sector for gain.
It is time we reevaluated that situation and got back to reality.
Do you know that the “prostituted women” who are allowed to attend their conferences are always paid to do so?
Let me explain, first, you must understand that Ruhama and the Women’s Health service (then referred to as the Women’s Health Project) always operated as two branches of the same organisation, and, from talking to a couple of young sex workers who have approached recently, just below the surface they still do.
They only managed to pay me once, in 1994 by using subterfuge. A very old nun with a sweet smile pressed a stiff cardlike envelope on me as I was leaving to “show appreciation”. I assumed it was some kind of mass card (I am an atheist but I can recognise a sweet thought when I see one) I was in a rush and did not get a chance to open it until I was at traffic lights on the quays.
It was such a slap in the face I nearly ran into the car in front, all that envelope contained was a £20 note, then the price of quick oral sex, no note, no cover slip, nothing.
Later one of the sex workers who had more dealings with Ruhama explained to me that Ruhama had been insisting they refuse to speak to anyone, conferences, organisations, the press unless they were paid. This was wrapped in some kind of psychobabble about self worth, but it was insane. It is hard enough to get anyone to let sex workers speak for themselves and demand their basic human rights as equal adults without holding out for a fee! Autonomy is a right, but it is also an obligation and privilege…you do not charge for that.
When the 1995 conference came around I asked for a place, but explained, in writing that I was just too poor to pay the fee as the independent activist I am, though I hoped to be able to in future and asked if they would wave it. Assuming tactlessness the previous year I also explained why it would be inappropriate and offensive if I were to be offered payment.
An employee of the Women’s Health Service called me, I explained again, she asked for a meeting in the Baggot Street Clinic “to talk about what I might like to say”, where I explained again, and also explained, as tactfully as possible that their input into what I might like to say was not required. Then I explained that I could not accept money because it would compromise my neutrality, and also because it was important to me to show the women that they were WORTH support from someone who wasn’t paid to give it. I even explained how I learned the impact of that in the care system.
I also told her that I was going to an interview for a job with a women’s organisation that is now a member of “Turn Off the Red Light”. This was a huge step for me (if you want to understand why, read my blog a lot of “normal” things are almost impossible to me, that is why I was a sex worker…because I COULD cope with it and it paid my bills as I had no other way of doing). I was very proud of having got myself to a point where I would attempt it. I had all the relevant experience. She asked me if I was going to tell them I had been a sex worker. I told her I was, because unless they could accept that I would never fit in, and, as the organisation they are, they SHOULD accept that.
She said the person conducting the interviews and making the selection was a close friend of hers and she would put in a good word and introduce me at the conference so I could explain my own case for getting the job. I said I wasn’t sure that was appropriate as I already knew I was not really on the same side as Ruhama/WHP…she said that didn’t matter.
The first red flag at the conference was when, during a general Q&A session I pointed out that one of the biggest factors driving women into sex work was the absence of good, affordable, childcare and that it would be to the advantage of ALL women to give a clear priority to addressing that…the contingent from Ruhama/WHP loudly tried to “SHUSH” me as I spoke…I found that bewildering as well as inexcusable.
During the workshop section I was establishing good rapport with people on equal terms, which is vital, showing people sex workers are intelligent, responsible adults, not some kind of subhumans who need “their betters” to define them. The same Women’s Health Project worker called me out to a table at the back of the room a few yards away and asked me to sign something which was covered except where the signature was to go…then I noticed a reasonable sum of money (in that there were £10s and £20 in plural ALSO under the top paper) the penny dropped and we wound up having a stand up row with me refusing to accept the money and suggesting she give it to Olive Braden (acting head of Rape Crisis who seemed ok to me) as a donation and she insisting I had to sign and accept it for it because it had “already been allocated” – despite me explaining 3 times that money would be offensive to me and why.
It was really hard for me to force myself to find her later and ask if she would introduce me to her friend about the job, as promised. She told me, with a nasty, smug little smile that she had “thought about it and decided that would not be appropriate”.
Before this incident I had been invited to the “after” party in the pub opposite by several women, just as a woman, on equal terms, after it I felt so completely alienated I could not get out of there fast enough. I was pulled over, shaking uncontrollably, on the hard shoulder at Lucan before I realised I was driving out of town on the wrong arterial road.
I went to that interview, I set myself a task then I do it…I do not even have words for the wall of barely concealed sniggering contempt I walked into. Now I think of it it was the very last time I could ever get myself to face the idea of interviewing for a job in the mainstream. It was the last time I could attempt a lot of things that would have made my life so much better.
I used to have flashbacks to that humiliating travesty of an interview every time I saw one of those charity shops until they closed them all down. More PTSD than from all my experience in the sex industry put together, from the people who pretend to want to “rescue” sex workers.
If anyone from “Turn Off the Red Light” would like to make apology and amends for that I can be contacted mechanima at gmail though I guarantee nobody ever will…funny thing, if I told about an incident with a client or a sex worker that traumatised me I would hear from a dozen people before midnight in case they had ever been the one who harmed me.
Ruhama and allies are simply evil, and a cruel taunt to every woman, like me, who hates sex work and dreads being stuck in it but would still rather sell sex than her integrity, or submit her life to the mercy of a culture of officially sanctioned dehumanisation exploitation by unscrupulous bullies.
I bet a lot of the Magdalene survivors can identify.
This is not just a political issue, a counter on a board, or a way of scoring points. Even though I always had the sense to refuse to engage with them these people, who pretend to want to “Rescue” and “Support” sex workers under the “Turn Off the Red Light” umbrella cold bloodedly destroyed parts of *me* the human being, beyond repair, just because I took it upon myself to speak for myself and tell the truth, instead of submitting to them.
You ever have one of those dreams where you are screaming and no sound will come out?
That is what it is like for me, all day, every day, watching a fraud called Rachel Moran lie about everything I lived and suffered through…well paid to pretend that the only solution is something I have known would, in reality, make everything many times worse (destroying a person’s livelihood is apt to do that) since before the actress who plays Rachel Moran was born.
That is what it is like for me to watch the “Turn Off the Red Light” ordering sex workers and former sex workers to show respect to the pimp who used to leech off them and has yet to utter a single syllable of remorse as she affects to condemn her former associates for things she knows never even really happen .
That is what it is like for me to watch people who pay themselves huge salaries and expenses, and appear to have neither empathy nor conscience throwing out statistics that are not just manipulated, but are usually outright rubbish with no basis in any reality at all.
That is what it is like for me begging and pleading with politicians to at least give the truth a fair hearing…just to be ignored, without acknowledgement. I am telling these people criminal fraud being committed and that does not even warrant a request for further information or the most cursory check.
That is what it is like for me watching politicians sell these women out to hide unrelated scraps of dirty laundry the have no right to hide anyway.
Can you even imagine how fecked up my head is inside after a year of that? I am scared of living in a world that is monstrous enough to let that happen and go on happening, where laws, promises and even constitutional obligations mean nothing, and where that degree of predation and corruption and the devastating effects on real people is not even taken seriously.
I never had a chance of recovering to a real, fulfilling life from that vicious little travesty in 1995, let alone now…and you, the public, go on paying these people to feck up some more lives…because that is ALL they ever do…
PLEASE stop paying them…DEMAND they be investigated…that is ALL they deserve…