In Their Own Words
rostitutes the world over have different opinions, attitudes, and concerns about prostitution. Here are several comments from prostitutes from different countries.
Frau Eva, Vienna, Austria: I have been in the business for eleven years and I founded the Austrian Association of Prostitutes. We organized in order to have a voice with public authorities. Austria, like West Germany, is a federation of states. Prostitution policies differ from one state to another.
In Vienna there are toleration zones and toleration times for prostitution. Prostitution is allowed only when it is dark outside and only in the police-controlled neighborhoods. Also, prostitution is allowed only in houses where no one lives, not even the prostitutes themselves, and only in areas where no kindergartens or schools or churches are nearby and where it is not too settled. Registration with the police is required, including registration of your work place. If you decide to deregister, it takes five years to get a letter of good conduct, something required for various jobs such as nursing or driving a taxi. The registration includes a photo, just like with criminals.
Prostitutes have to carry a little book when they’re working that records weekly required medical checks. If you are shown to be sick, then your book is confiscated and you are not allowed to work. The police can demand to see your book anytime. At present prostitutes throughout Austria are also required to get a monthly AIDS test. If they fail to comply, they are fined up to the equivalent of $7,000 or given a prison sentence. There is no real choice of doctor because the AIDS test is free only when done by a state-designated agency.
Mae, Bangkok, Thailand: Talking about the situation of prostitutes we might distinguish three main types: one is forced prostitutes, the second is so-called free prostitutes, and the third is migrant prostitutes abroad. Most of the first type who are forced are from the country
side and mostly they are deceived by agents or sold by their parents. The agents usually deceive them and say that they will be working in a restaurant or somewhere else other than prostitution. Often they are kept in a house of prostitution and not allowed to go out; they are given no freedom and many times little or no earnings. They will be beaten if they don’t receive guests or if they don’t obey the owner. And they have to work very hard; they have to receive at least ten to fifteen guests a day. The living condition is awfully bad. Many women have to sleep in one small room without enough air circulation; they get only two meals a day and not enough medical care. You can get away from the forced condition only by running away or when your body is not fit to work anymore.
Yolanda, Zurich, Switzerland: I’m a mother of four children. I have three children at school and one at home, plus I have my mother at home. I have been divorced for fourteen years, I raised the children all by myself, and I had to move very often because people discovered that I was a prostitute. So I’m not even entitled to my own private home. I have to pay three thousand francs rent in order to be left alone—yes, as soon as they know that you are a prostitute, they charge more; you are discriminated against. This is true for all women who are prostitutes. But we are the oldest profession of the world and everybody knows that. So it is time for all of us to stand up for our rights. We are people just like all other people. We have our profession, we make a living. A normal woman can buy what she wants, but we prostitutes cannot act as we want. We should be able to act as the others do! I also have a friend. We have a very good relationship. He comes and sees the children. I give my children love. They have parents. I didn’t have that love when I was child but believe me, I am giving my children plenty of love.
Source: Pheterson, 1989, pp. 62-83.