There is this misconception that women and girls want to be prostitutes. The “Oldest Profession in the World”. No one stops to think about the reasons why. But there is one thing for sure, no woman or young girl wakes up one day and decides she wants a career of prostitution where she will have sex with strange men who will beat her, torture her and ultimately dehumanize her. This is not a choice, this is a FORCED decision made purely on survival, mental, emotional and physical abuse. There are several factors as to why any woman would subject herself to this life. When she is alone and can’t pay rent, her children cry because they are hungry or sick and she has no money to feed them, when the lights get turned off, when there is no cooking gas or heat, when the rent is due, when she can’t find a job, when she has a job but looses it because she has no childcare or because they simply don’t need her anymore, when public assistance is not enough, when the social worker can’t help her because she/he is mired in governmental red tape, when government programs are being shut down because of the ailing economy. When she has no one to turn to, when all the things she thought she could rely on failed her, when she has to live in fear in a shelter for herself and her children. Even though she can’t bear to make this decision, she also can’t bare to see her children suffering. Of course this is not a decision any woman should make and it should never be an option. Then the ultimate stigma hits, when people in the neighborhood find out what’s going on and they want her in jail, they condemn her, they call her names all the while not giving any thought to what could have been done to prevent this downward spiral in this woman’s life.
Girls who runaway are doing so not because they want to see the bright lights of a big city or live out “Pretty Woman” but because they are running away from something. Dysfunctionality in the home, physical abuse, molestation by a relative, incest, sexual abuse from a parent, drug addicted parents, or maybe they just felt neglected. They become homeless and vulnerable, they are picked up by someone who says he will take care of them, they fall in love and that’s were the life of prostitution begins. The rapes, the beatings, the branding, and drug addictions. Some are forced to walk the streets, others are imprisoned so no one sees them but the johns. And for the ones who are walking the streets, they are chastised by people passing through, put down and made to be jokes by men who view them as nothing. They continue to be re-victimized and society just looks at them as another stupid girl who ran away and got herself in trouble, therefore she deserved it. Often times there are people who are aware of abuse in the home of a young woman that they may know or even be friends with, but they stay silent. Their silence did nothing for her but lead her into a nightmare. It’s pretty much the same scenario for the young women who are drug addicted. Prostitution go hand in hand with drug addiction. She sells herself because her boyfriend needs drug money but when he no longer needs her, she must fend for herself. She is forced into prostitution because she has a drug habit she can’t break and doesn’t know any other way. Her friends who may have known her before this happened see her now and walk away. If only they were a friend to her when they saw this happening, she could have been saved.
This is a problem that doesn’t only affect “other” countries, it affects this nation as well. And there are similarities. Take a country like Iran for instance. Here you have a place where women are subjected to stringent religious laws that oppress them beyond humanity, they are forced to marry men who will beat them, suppress them, and imprison them in their own homes. For these women their very existence depends on a man, without that they are left impoverished and alone with their children. Here in this country we have those women, no they did not come from Iran to live here, they are born and raised in the United States. Just like here, Iranian women are drug addicted forced into poverty, not much help from the government, although it doesn’t help much that they are an unmarried woman, and they survive through prostitution. They can’t live with themselves and wonder how long they will have to do this before things get better. I’m sure women here wonder that too. Usually women in Iran get addicted to drugs because of their husbands, unlike some women here who become addicted not only from husbands and boyfriends but from parents, siblings, friends and so on.
We all need to remember one thing, most if not all of these women once had a life. They didn’t choose the life of prostitution, it chose them. As a society we need to wipe the blinders off of our eyes, these women are HUMAN they have feelings and they are broken by what their life has offered them. They do not seek to justify what they are doing, and even though it may not seem like it, but they are screaming for help and wondering why no one saw what was happening and tried to stop it. The time of turning the other way and making lewd jokes is over. “Ladies of the Evening” are not mysterious enchantresses who mesmerize men with their seductive charm and romance. This myth must be shattered and never see the light of day again. We as a nation must fight for programs that will stop this from happening, open up the doors to more education, step in when you see something is terribly wrong in a young woman’s life. Do not let the stereotypes of decades past cloud your judgment or force you to speak words of condemnation instead of compassion. These women and young girls don’t need your glares, your disapprovals or your jokes, they need your help, your humanity and your voice.