Police interventions

During my consults for my STI checks and also when police steps by, they usually remind me to call or visit the police when I have serious troubles with a client. However in the cases I did, the situation only got worse. I’ll write some of my experiences with the police of the Netherlands. These are long stories, but I’ll keep it short.

– My first experience was when I dialled the emergency number as a child, because my parents had an aggressive fight. The police came and wanted to arrest one, but my other family member refused to file a report because of religious reasons. After a long talk they left. In that time I stayed most of my time in a residential treatment center, because I was depressed at that time. They never believed me that I had serious damaging ongoing problems in my family – simply because my parents denied these things.. The police didn’t tried to inform that center and didn’t looked after us anymore.

 
– Several years ago I accidentally got information of someone who admitted that he abused teen girls sexually and that he is still doing it. He told that after confrontation of other people. I informed the police on the phone, but they dismissed it. They asked me things like ‘Well, maybe you are the person who are abusing these kids? How could we know?’ Because of that attitude I let go of that case after that. But recently I heard some other people want to go to the police – I wish them good luck…

 
– There is a human trafficking case reported of whom the reporter got victimized by the police, due their actions. You can read the story in Dutch, by clicking here. I know that this story is not a fake story.

 
– Together with a family member I put charges against a different family member because of domestic abuse. After several months they came to the conclusion that the crime was too old to be persecuted. They admitted that if you have been physically abused as a six years old, you still have to put charges of that within five years. This would have mean I had to put charges of that before I was 11 years old. Despite the fact I was dependent of that person. (Note: recently there has a new law applied that minors can still put such charges after they became 18. However this law came too late for us unfortunately.)

 
– Last year I put charges against a client because of sexual assault. Although I had a friendly cop in the beginning, they still started to question whether I could have been really sexually assaulted – simply because I am a prostitute… They also failed to do a medical examination, even despite the fact that I went to the police office almost right after it happened. After a couple of months I was informed that I had to come back to the office and do everything over again. The report was made by the wrong department. And this case is still ongoing and there are even more issues going on here..

 

These are some of my police experiences. According to my experiences with the Dutch police, they have a 100% failure rate so far. Besides that it is not uncommon that police interventions make the situations only worse for the victim. And they seriously wonder why prostitutes rarely contact the police…

I understand that you as a reader would love to hear the other side of these stories. I can’t write that here in full, therefore I encourage you to look for other stories of sex workers. There are many more stories like mine, but rarely you’ll find success stories which includes police interventions. If I have a pimp against my will, then I’m quite sure that it would be better for me to avoid the police. I don’t trust health professionals that much either. I think it would be best to inform coworkers and try to deal with it myself.

I want to add here that I sometimes had good conversations with individual law enforcemt agents, but they are always dependent on their coworkers and as well. So I don’t trust them in full either.

 

If you are a journalist who would love to investigate this issues more, then please contact me! If we get in touch with each other and I trust you, then I’ll be able to share some documents which backups my stories. Thank you.

Connecting with your opponents

There are many organizations out there focused on prostitution, human trafficking or both. Their views differ quite a lot. Some are fully pro sex workers rights, while others want to abolish prostitution entirely. Some of my coworkers are surprised when I say that I want to be in touch with all of these organizations. If someone asks me: “Even those really horrible ones?” I’ll say: yes, even those ones.

Frequently I end up talking with someone who thinks prostitution should be illegal, or at least visiting sex workers. I still remember some chats I had with the people who think that sex work is just as any other job, but also with those who thinks I shouldn’t have the right to do my job. In some cases it can be quite challenging to not become defensive. Especially when the other person does become defensive him- or herself.

In all the conversations I did try to look for someone’s motive. Why does he or she cares? Is their any pain? Is there any (religious) core belief? Or any related personal experiences? Trying to figure out anything which may affect someone’s view and beliefs on prostitution. When succeeding, especially when we respect each other, I have the most interesting conversations. It keeps me critical on my own views, but I also find out what we both have in common. Usually both me and the other person are quite passionate about our goals. And for the people I see more often, I would lie if I say I wouldn’t love anyone of them – despite their different views.

To the people who wants to see prostitution to be abolished I ask: what do you think you would achieve by doing so? For the group sex workers who likes this job it doesn’t seems to be a good idea at all. But let’s focus on a different group: those who rather do a different kind of job. Perhaps they have a long history of abuse and neglect or a history of sex trafficking. Or they may have a transgender background and therefore some of them don’t get accepted by society. What would abolition of sex work do any good to them? Yes, it may give a moral sign -that we wouldn’t want this in our country- if that’s your goal. But I’m afraid that many prostitutes would end up much worse. Maybe they become homeless, without a job or a job they dislike even more. And if they have better alternatives, why wouldn’t they make use of that now already?

As a prostitute myself, I don’t really love my job. I sometimes do have fun moments with my clients, but most of the days are not that much of fun. But at the other hand, it’s by far not the most worse job I can imagine. So I never got convinced that abolition of prostitution would be helpful to me or my coworkers. However, I’m always willing to listen to new arguments. And I hope other people will do that as well.

Finding my home

Today I was thinking about how it feels to ‘be home’. I grew most of my teenage years in several residential settings. And as a kid I grew up in an abusive atmosphere where we most of the time tried to adjust en try to keep one of our family calm, to prevent that he became more abusive then he already was. Therefore I don’t think I really ever had sort of positive feelings of ‘being home’.

Despite the negative things at home, I did had the privilege to see and learn many countries and cultures as a child. One of the beautiful trips I made was to Egypt. I was amazed by the beauty of the historic and big buildings. But at the same time I was amazed at their culture of today. It is so much different then ours, but yet interesting and beautiful.

As a kid I also made some trips to the United States. I loved the beautiful nature and national parks and I also enjoyed the many Disney theme parks. However, these are not my most dearest memories of the States. I still remember the several strangers who asked me how I was doing and who didn’t accepted my ‘fine’ answer right away. Because of the way they looked and asked me wouldn’t make me surprise if they would intervene if they could. They noticed that there was something wrong with me. No stranger in my own country, Egypt or in any other country I visited in Europe, ever noticed and let me know that they were seeing that there was something wrong. It gave me a strange, but good feeling which I haven’t forgot.

I usually find it a bit difficult to leave beautiful places and people. Especially when I’m not sure if I will see them/it ever again. But these experiences were really worth it. And I’m wondering, are these kinds of feelings a bit of what home should feel like?

As a teenager I grew up in several residential treatment programs. I got depressed and that got out of control. Most of the time I enjoyed being in a big group of other teenagers, varying from about 10 to 30 others. It was never really quiet and I enjoyed the presence of all the others. Looking back it wasn’t really a good thing that these groups were mixed genders. There were also a lot of problems on the groups. Letting boys and girls live together (apart from family) is already questionable whether that is healthy and responsible idea. But putting (sexually) traumatized girls and (sexually) traumatized) boys together is a real bad idea. I also hear a lot of stories of other girls who had some serious negative sexual experiences with guys on such groups. Apart from that, I have been close to some other girls from time to time. This was on a friendly and non-sexual way, and they have been very valuable to me. With a few of them I still even have contact with today.

At the other hand the more things I see and the more people I met, the more I have to say goodbye to. I soon discovered that new beginnings and meeting new people, also means new endings. I realize that every new person I meet, means that I also have to say a final farewell to one day. Often the first “hello” and the last “goodbye” is on the same day. But it becomes more difficult when you know someone longer and really love that person. Even a marriage cannot prevent a last goodbye. Maybe there is really a place known as heaven. I personally hope there is and that I will see all the people and animals I love back again. But that scenario isn’t something I can be sure of at this time.

During my work as a prostitute I had some clients who where frequent visitors. Some said I was very good at some specific sexual act, while others said they were in love with me. But one of the most interesting reasons I heard was that he wanted a place to be himself and also want to talk. Often those men had difficult issues at home from what I’ve heard from them. So they visited me to find something that they didn’t had at home. Don’t get me wrong – I’m just talking now about a small group of my clients. But looking for some sort of attention or love from just a streetwalker as me, it was interesting. Most of my clients on the streets just want to have quick sex.

Through all my experiences I think I can say what it is like to ‘be home’. Or at least what it means to me. To me it’s being with people who loves each other and where is respect, freedom and desire to share important things to each other on a frequent basis. The hard thing of all this is that you have to miss each other from while to while and even have to say a final goodbye one day. It makes it even more harder if these people are living apart in all kind of places. But I guess to me that ‘being home’ is not restricted to some kind of physical place. Although I do sometimes miss the times of being with my grandparents on the county where I woke up when the roosters crowed in the morning. Unfortunately I had to say my final goodbye already to them. Maybe the memories of loved ones at a specific place is a part of ‘a home’ as well?

So I’m really curious, what means ‘being at home’ to you? Is it just your physical home or is at about people? Or both? Or did I missed something important? I’d love to hear from you!

Update: HVO-Querido rectified their article

Recently I wrote about an article of HVO-Querido and with the request to rectify it. They did so with this article:

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Translation: “Recently we posted a message on our website of HVO-Querido in which we used the wrong term for a group that is attending a boat during the Canal Parade in Amsterdam. In the message we called them man sex workers and transgenders.

On August 5th, there will be men sex workers and also transmen and gender queers. We have changed this in our news article on our website.

Our apologies.”

Thank you HVO-Querido for your courage and integrity in solving this issue.

Transphobia is affecting Holland as well

Update: HVO-Querido rectified their article as requested. This rectification can be found by clicking here. This means that the information below is outdated and is still available for educational purposes only.

After the stigmatizing name of Boys Project in Belgium, I received a message that in Holland there is happening a familier thing. Again, a health organization HVO-Querido (including P&G292) is abusing the stigma of transsexuals to fight for a different stigma. As you can read in Dutch here.

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Therefore I sent this letter below in response to that. I will keep you updated on this if there changes anything.

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Translation:

Through a connection of mine I was notified about your online article called “Sekswerkers op Canal Parade” of February 17, 2017.

After reading this article I noticed that you stigmatize transgenders and also abuse (possibly unknowingly) the stigma on transgender to fight your own stigma. That’s the reason I file this complaint to your health organization and I would like to explain this below.

Since a long time transgenders (people of whom their physical gender didn’t match their inner gender at birth) are being stigmatized. Very often their gender identity is not being recognized or are seen as a ‘third gender’, instead of being a women or men.

During my work experiences on one of the locations I work, there are frequently tours offered to tourists in a red light district. Very frequently the tour guides hear from these tourists don’t see the sexworkers with a transgender background are not seen as women – while they actually really are women.

Apart from that I also hear my own clients often ask me ‘what I am’. When I ask to be more specific they usually answer ask of I’m a women or a man, or something like that. Clients often say that transgenders are not women or at least not entirely. They often also behave like they have the right to know whether a sexworker has a transgender background. Often it seems to be rude or inappropiate to ask if a (cis) women had for example a breast surgery or had their womb removed. However, when it comes to a transgender history then “it is OK” and “normal” to ask these questions and to know that. Even if they can’t see or notice it in any other way.

Knowing the situation and facts, it´s inappropiate and wrong to call transgenders and men under one term – without (cis) women. This strongly suggests that transgender are not (entirely) women. Of course it’s fine to have a boat just for men (possibly with transvestites), but without transgenders. Or to have a boat for everyone, including women.

I hope your organization will rectify your article and will no langer stigmatize transgenders. Thank you.

Transphobic beliefs at health organizations

At one day when I was in the office of my activism work, I was shocked to find some cards of Boysproject. It’s one of the organizations which claims to help men and transgender sexworkers. You may wonder what is wrong about it, but their ‘help’ to transgender prostitutes is highly stigmatizing.

If you don’t know what transgenders are: transgenders are people who have from inside the experience and feelings (gender identity) of being a different gender then their physical gender at birth. They often choose to dress accordingly to their gender identity and many take medical treatments as well to correct their bodies to their gender identity.

During their life time transgenders usually suffer great rejection, abuse and discrimination. At homes, schools and not rarely even health organizations. If you do a Google search on transgenders, it is not hard to find these stories. Therefore it usually takes a lot of courage to reveal your true self to others.

However some of these women choose to start working in prostitution. One of the common reasons is to earn enough money for their transition, but also because they experienced too much discrimination and rejection within other jobs. Or they are dealing with so much rejection and abuse that they are craving for acceptance of their gender identity and their bodies. All these reasons may attract them into any form of sexwork.

So, how are health organizations or health professionals aiming at men and transgenders supposed to help that group? We’re not talking about cross-dressing men here, but about women with a transgender background. As a matter of fact they stigmatize and (indirectly) deny their gender identity again, the exact same reason why they started with sexwork in the first place.

So if you are a health professional, please only focus on transgenders if you don’t work with men or if you’re also working with women. It’s not that hard to understand. Transgenders are just as women as other women.

Should traumatized sexworkers be protected?

A common question I get is whether traumatized or vulnerable sexworkers should be protected for taking the risk of being retraumatized (by restricting or refusing their legal working places). I don’t mean victims of human trafficking, but the traumatized or the so called vulnerable ones who choose this job by their own choice.

Many people I spoke with about my job said I’m vulnerable, because I’m traumatized and started way too early with having sexual contact with adult men. I definitely don’t deny that I started too early with that and I know that I have some traumas, including sexual ones as well.

My job isn’t always easy when having sexual traumas. There are some clients who tend to be abusive or aren’t seeing you always as an equal human being. Unfortunately screening my clients behind the glass of my window is not my best skill. To keep things short: I had some clients I rather didn’t had. In a few cases I ended up on my bed with tears, feeling disgusted and bad memories flashing up in my mind. These moments are not fun and I usually don’t share them with my coworkers. Fortunately these moments usually doesn’t last long.

So should I look for a different job, simply because I have some clients who trigger me? I don’t think so. There are many people with some amount of traumas and also people who get triggered on their work once in a while. I think people need to decide for themselves what it’s best for them in their circumstances. As I wrote earlier, my job not only provides me money, but it also provides me with self-esteem, self-appreciation and satisfaction. For me, the pros outweighs the cons.

When you work here in Belgium behind a window or in Holland, sooner or later some health professionals will visit you to talk with you. Of course you’re allowed to refuse this, but it can be a good thing as well. If you’re new in a country, you may not be aware of the facilities for sexworkers. This way you’ll have the opportunity to learn about this. So far, so good.

In Amsterdam I’ve got in touch with such a health organization which aims at sexworkers. Besides the STI checks I decided to get frequent chats with a social worker. After all, my job isn’t always fun and great to me. The social worker was helpful to me in a practical way. For instance, she helped to decide whether my current way of working as a sexworker was best for me or not. We also talked about other forms of sexwork and which one would work best for me. Some other time she also shared some options for support when I would want to stop working as a sexworker. In that point of view her help was useful.

However, there was also a different side on this. She was a social worker and as most health professionals, she was kind but also quite distant. I didn’t shared with her my issues that were emotionally troubling at that time. I think most health professionals do their work with best intentions, but I can genuinely say that most of the health professionals I had were not healthy to me. I’ll write about my issues and views of health professionals more in the future, to explain this further.

So yes, I had many health professionals. I also received many therapy in the past, both as inpatient and outpatient. So it’s not like I didn’t tried to resolve my traumas in a way which is considered the healthy and ‘as-it-should-be way’. As a matter of fact in my work it seems to be that I am slowly recovering my past. I can remember more traumatic memories ever without being too much triggered. Besides that, it also get a lot more out of this work than just only money. So in my opinion, I don’t need ‘protection’ and I’m able to make that decision for myself.