Cynic

Do economic reasons count as being "forced" into prostitution ?

26 posts in this topic

We read a lot about people being forced into Prostitution, commonly concerning trafficking etc etc.

What about a situation where a Lady finds herself in dire Financial circumstances and decides to take up Escorting as the only way to pay the bills, look after her family, pay off debt or whatever?

Has she made a free choice to do this or has she been "forced" into prostitution as she can see no other way to obtain the income she needs?

Some years ago I met a Lady who had married a "rogue" who had taken out credit cards in her name and scarpered leaving her virtually penniless and in substantial debt. This was in the days before the easier routes of IVA's etc were readily available

This Lady took up Escorting with a target of paying off the debt, which was a very substantial sum in the £ 30k+ iirc. She reached her target and retired immediately to an Admin office job on "normal" pay levels and has never returned.

Clearly by retiring immediately she did not want Escorting to be a career choice, which would suggest that it was something that she didn't really want to do but could see no option.

So was she "forced" into it in Harmon terms?

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We read a lot about people being forced into Prostitution, commonly concerning trafficking etc etc.

What about a situation where a Lady finds herself in dire Financial circumstances and decides to take up Escorting as the only way to pay the bills, look after her family, pay off debt or whatever?

Has she made a free choice to do this or has she been "forced" into prostitution as she can see no other way to obtain the income she needs?

Some years ago I met a Lady who had married a "rogue" who had taken out credit cards in her name and scarpered leaving her virtually penniless and in substantial debt. This was in the days before the easier routes of IVA's etc were readily available

This Lady took up Escorting with a target of paying off the debt, which was a very substantial sum in the £ 30k+ iirc. She reached her target and retired immediately to an Admin office job on "normal" pay levels and has never returned.

Clearly by retiring immediately she did not want Escorting to be a career choice, which would suggest that it was something that she didn't really want to do but could see no option.

So was she "forced" into it in Harmon terms?

No because clause 14 says that the "Force, coercion etc." has to be applied by a third party in expectation of gain for themselves or someone else. So it has to be "force" in the common sense interpretation e.g. gun to the head etc.etc.

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I am forced to sell my body, brains and knowledge, too. I'd rather prune my roses, but so happens that my current job pays the bills.

To say the need to earn an income -even if it is to pay off some ludicrous debt is, well, ludicrous.

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I am forced to sell my body, brains and knowledge, too. I'd rather prune my roses, but so happens that my current job pays the bills.

To say the need to earn an income -even if it is to pay off some ludicrous debt is, well, ludicrous.

yes, there's the common sense approach as well, but with the paranoia going round regarding this clause sometimes it's better to show people that the clause itself cannot possibly be interpreted like that no matter how nuts you are.

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No one else gains from it, so no, its not forced.

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No because clause 14 says that the "Force, coercion etc." has to be applied by a third party in expectation of gain for themselves or someone else. So it has to be "force" in the common sense interpretation e.g. gun to the head etc.etc.

The two women I know whom were forced into it had their money taken and di not have a gun to their head...

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Personally I can't see economic reasons being the same as forced into prostitution. We all need to eat therefore we are all forced to work so that we have the money to put a meal on the table, well all of us except those good for nothing dole scroungers over the road. :P

In the case of the lady in your example, she always had a choice, admittedly the alternative wasn't very nice, but neither is life all the time otherwise I'd have won the euromillions jackpot. This is key, you can not force someone to do something whilst leaving them with a choice, provided the choice is theirs and their is now undue external influence, as was the case here.

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The two women I know whom were forced into it had their money taken and di not have a gun to their head...

"gun to the head" was a metaphore. To emphasise the meaning of "force" as being the common sense one, that the woman has to do it on the orders of a 3rd party. I didn't mean that was the only meaning of force.....

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exploitation of someone's vulnerability could mean a lot of things...

you don't have to threaten someone who is dependent on drugs with a gun

to make her do things to get cash

this comes from the Forced Marriage Act

"force" includes coerce by threats or other psychological means

look at such cases, that might give a clue

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2007/ukpga_20070020_en_1

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exploitation of someone's vulnerability could mean a lot of things...

you don't have to threaten someone who is dependent on drugs with a gun

to make her do things to get cash

this comes from the Forced Marriage Act

"force" includes coerce by threats or other psychological means

look at such cases, that might give a clue

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2007/ukpga_20070020_en_1

I think it would mean things such as repeatedly going on at someone, asking them, shouting at them when they refuse and guilt-tripping them regarding a financial situation. I can't imagine there being any prosecutions attempted for anything that we on here wouldn't agree was "proper" force/coercion, the offence is already so susceptible to legal challenge due to the defendant be held responsible for the actions of a 3rd party, that they'll need the woman to be a proper victim.

For example, deception is open to interpretation, and doesn't require the woman to be a slave or forced. Telling a woman that she'll earn 100 per client minumum and then paying her 80 once she's working, could be classed as deception but I think they'd really be committing hari-kiri to attempt that sort of a case. The offence is so controversial that anything other than a real sex slave is never going to work, irrespective of how you could interpret the clause. In my opinion anyway.

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So let me see, I would hate being a Lawyer but financial reasons force me to work as one, then by your reasoning that would be slavery right?

Because I'd be effectively coerced/forced into doing it by my financial situation.

My example might be reductio ad absurdum but you get my point....

Aside from that, when is a financial situation "too tight" to warrant doing something you don't wish to extricate yourself? E.g. £30,000 in debt but I could still be comfortable with that. Whereas if I was differently inclined I might want to take on three jobs to pay it all off as quickly as possible. The choice is there...I see no coercion.

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We read a lot about people being forced into Prostitution, commonly concerning trafficking etc etc.

What about a situation where a Lady finds herself in dire Financial circumstances and decides to take up Escorting as the only way to pay the bills, look after her family, pay off debt or whatever?

Has she made a free choice to do this or has she been "forced" into prostitution as she can see no other way to obtain the income she needs?

Some years ago I met a Lady who had married a "rogue" who had taken out credit cards in her name and scarpered leaving her virtually penniless and in substantial debt. This was in the days before the easier routes of IVA's etc were readily available

This Lady took up Escorting with a target of paying off the debt, which was a very substantial sum in the £ 30k+ iirc. She reached her target and retired immediately to an Admin office job on "normal" pay levels and has never returned.

Clearly by retiring immediately she did not want Escorting to be a career choice, which would suggest that it was something that she didn't really want to do but could see no option.

So was she "forced" into it in Harmon terms?

I have read a lot about people being similarly forced into driving a london taxi ...as the only way to pay the bills, look after their family, pay off debt or whatever...and to pay for their punting expenses.

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if so then I was "forced" into it as I originally went into it due to a dreadful financial situation following my divorce, having to choose between a 2p tin of beans or putting that 2p towards the cost of stamp for a job application but technically it was my decision and no one else made it for me so so then it could also be argued that I was not forced,

But I do not regret that decision as I do enjoy it especially now as it is totally my choice when I work and when I do not

Beth

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if so then I was "forced" into it as I originally went into it due to a dreadful financial situation following my divorce, having to choose between a 2p tin of beans or putting that 2p towards the cost of stamp for a job application but technically it was my decision and no one else made it for me so so then it could also be argued that I was not forced,

But I do not regret that decision as I do enjoy it especially now as it is totally my choice when I work and when I do not

Beth

Thanks for the reply. It was this general scenario, as you have described your circumstances where at the time and which no doubt have been faced by many others, that prompted the question.

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No because clause 14 says that the "Force, coercion etc." has to be applied by a third party in expectation of gain for themselves or someone else.

I don't see how that leads to the conclusion that...

So it has to be "force" in the common sense interpretation e.g. gun to the head etc.etc.

The banks, credit cards and credit agencies can exert a lot of coercion to be paid, so they do gain. I've about situation where credit agencies call people everyday for months on end to get their pound of flesh.

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I am in two minds on this one. For the record, I am considering taking part in this hobby, and am wanting to research the social and psychological ramifications first.

Interestingly, the suggestion that one can be considered "forced" into paid employment by economic necessity is not a new one; it is pretty standard in socialist economic analysis. Whether lawyer, taxi-driver or working girl, all people who do not have independent means to survive are forced into selling their labour power (perhaps unless they would honestly claim that they would be a lawyer, taxi-driver or working girl voluntarily if their bills and outgoings were magically taken care of!).

So, with the greatest of respect to bethofkettering, I'd say an element of external compulsion existed in her decision to join the trade, even though (I am pleased to hear) she enjoys it now. I confess also to be suspicious of the view (EllieSheffield) that suggests another person needs to benefit from the transaction in order for it to properly count as being exploitative; the economic system has the capacity to exert compulsion all by itself.

That all said, I have been fascinated to read PN over the last few weeks, entirely as a lurker, and discovered a community of WGs who appear, genuinely, to enjoy the work they do. I bought one of Belle de Jour's books a couple of weeks ago, and similarly found a much more complex picture of happiness, sadness and sharp wit than the depressingly reductive mainstream "wisdom".

Gentleman here: would any of you avoid girls who hate working, but "have no choice" and so take up this trade anyway? I should think in such circumstances, such a girl would not enjoy her work, and it would be fairly evident to her customers? Do you use a first telephone call with a WG to determine her attitude to her work? Or, would avoiding a WG who takes up the trade solely for economic reasons rob her of a career option that might be a practical solution for her woes?

Ladies - I'd be interested in your views also. Are WGs who are working in a safe environment (i.e. not on the street) really happy, or is there a degree of mental compartmentalisation to avoid serious unhappiness ("I feel exploited but I enjoy the income" etc)?

I guess the question I am trying to answer for myself is that I have tended in the past to side with the traditional feminist perspective, but finding myself in the possible position of taking up this hobby, I am looking at the counterarguments. All views and replies appreciated! :rolleyes:

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I'm in the "all work is slavery" camp. Some might argue that this is merely a cop-out to try and excuse the act of punting, but I would even go further and say WGs have more freedom than I do - a WG can say "I don't do anal" and that's that, but if I said to my boss "sorry, I don't want to do this particular task", he'd show me where the door is and suggest I walk through it one last time. On top of that, an independent escort is her own boss, which is a much better position than being "a slave of the Bourgeois class".

Unless you're lucky enough to be getting paid for something you genuinely enjoy doing (football, music, acting etc), then you're being economically coerced into working. I can't imagine there are many bin men who don't think their job is rubbish...

Gentleman here: would any of you avoid girls who hate working, but "have no choice" and so take up this trade anyway? I should think in such circumstances, such a girl would not enjoy her work, and it would be fairly evident to her customers? Do you use a first telephone call with a WG to determine her attitude to her work? Or, would avoiding a WG who takes up the trade solely for economic reasons rob her of a career option that might be a practical solution for her woes?

Yes. Personally, when I have a booking with an escort, I want to try and make sure she has a good time as well. Maybe that's really just to massage my own ego, but either way, it means the booking isn't going to be nearly as enjoyable if the girl in question doesn't have her heart in it. Even if they're a good actress, there are the little bits of body language and facial cues that you can pick up on which just leave you thinking something wasn't quite right. So if you punt because you can't get sex any other way, then it's going to make you feel even worse thinking "wow, even when I pay a girl she doesn't want to have sex with me. How big a loser am I???"

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It's a good question and difficult one. First, I think you'd need to consider what is a 'dire need'. Not easy. Society might not consider debt something to die from, but plenty of folk have taken their own life as a result.

Then there's poverty. Considering how many families live below the minimum required to maintain a decent standard of living, would you say this was a dire need? It must feel like one.

In this country the vast majority can avoid hunger or homelessness (if not misery), so if deciding the question coldly and logically, then I'd say, "No". Then again .....

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Forced into driving a London Cab interesting one not Red by any cahnce he seems to spend more time on his laptop answring and posting threads

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We read a lot about people being forced into Prostitution, commonly concerning trafficking etc etc.

What about a situation where a Lady finds herself in dire Financial circumstances and decides to take up Escorting as the only way to pay the bills, look after her family, pay off debt or whatever?

Has she made a free choice to do this or has she been "forced" into prostitution as she can see no other way to obtain the income she needs?

Some years ago I met a Lady who had married a "rogue" who had taken out credit cards in her name and scarpered leaving her virtually penniless and in substantial debt. This was in the days before the easier routes of IVA's etc were readily available

This Lady took up Escorting with a target of paying off the debt, which was a very substantial sum in the £ 30k+ iirc. She reached her target and retired immediately to an Admin office job on "normal" pay levels and has never returned.

Clearly by retiring immediately she did not want Escorting to be a career choice, which would suggest that it was something that she didn't really want to do but could see no option.

So was she "forced" into it in Harmon terms?

My debts were cleared long before I started as an Escort however I was determined not to get into trouble again!

IVA isn't actually the easy way out it usually means a 5-6 year payment agreement during which details are accessible by the general public, it wrecks your credit rating to much the same extent as bankruptcy and if you miss a payment at any time they can declare you bankrupt immediately. Often you have to be capable of paying at least £200 pcm which many people in debt cannot do on top of essential living expenses. I couldn't when I was in that position.

IVA's are useful for some people but not the easy option at all, sometimes complete insolvency is better or at least the same but without the 5-6 year buy in.

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the problem lies with the statement "only way to pay the bills"

This is never the reality. There is always other ways to pay the bills. Other wise all the very poor women of the world would sell sex and this is not the case. When i am in asia, some girls sell sex others do not. The majority do not. thats their choice, but if their was NO OTHER WAY. Then there is no other way, so clearly there is another way

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Ladies - I'd be interested in your views also. Are WGs who are working in a safe environment (i.e. not on the street) really happy, or is there a degree of mental compartmentalisation to avoid serious unhappiness ("I feel exploited but I enjoy the income" etc)?

I've met many prostitutes over the years, from bunny boilers to saints. On the whole most of the ladies have been happy with their choice. The secret seems to be finding your own niche to work in, sticking to what you're comfortable with, meeting clients who are respectful, avoiding twats like the plague and taking regular time out just to recharge yourself.

You can find yourself skipping out of an appointment with the biggest smile on your face having serviced a lovely guy and had a great time, or it may be a rare case of shutting the door behind him, fatigued and with 2 fingers pointed at your temple wanting to shoot yourself.

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Yes I remember when I was in financial trouble I just took out more debt to pay bills. So there are always ways to live and pay bills. Just not something I would chose to do again.

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There are plenty of student girls out there who see their university days through by escorting. I suppose it beats stacking shelves in sainsburys! But I wouldn't say they were forced, ultimately everyone has choices to make in life and I would think very few - apart from the poor girls trafficked into the country - have no choice whatsoever

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Julia O'Connell Davidson has some good points

...the fact that the third party often sets the prices for services and imposes other 'house rules', can operate as a strong financial pressure on sex workers to consent to engage in acts that they might otherwise refuse, and that potentially carry serious health risks, such as anal sex or oral sex without a condom, in order to make up the shift fee.

In short, the freedom of women who voluntarily work in indoor establishments can be constrained in a number of different ways, and some of these constraints on freedom encourage workers to consent to service a very high volume of clients daily, as well as to contracts that may harm them.

And yet they do not necessarily bear any resemblance to the 'sex slaves' depicted in campaigning materials produced by feminist abolitionist groups, which typically include testimony from women and girls who have been violently beaten and raped by pimps, and/or tortured by sadistic clients, lists of physical illnesses and psychological conditions suffered by women in prostitution, images of trafficked women as puppet-like objects or slabs of meat , or even, in Poppy Project marketing materials, as decapitated heads

packaged as sex toys.

Similarly, the woman who services large numbers of clients because she is locked into a building and threatened with violence and the woman who services large numbers of clients because she has agreed to pay an exorbitant shift fee to an indoor prostitution establishment owner could both be described as coerced by the spectre of what would happen if they failed to service large numbers of clients; or they could be described as having chosen to service large numbers of clients daily in preference to suffering those consequences.

A Question of Consent? Sexual Slavery and Sex Work in the UK

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