Oct 25, 2016
“Britain’s five richest families worth more than poorest 20%”- Guardian online headline, 17th March 2014.
Top of my ‘Most-hated Zeitgeisty Phrases that You See in the Media’ list (apart from the overuse of the word Zeitgeist) is ‘S/he’s worth £000,000,000.’
The idea that a person’s worth should be measured by the contents of their bank account/offshore investment/amount of tenners under the mattress may be just lazy journalism, yet it speaks into the heart of the day by day experience of someone who lives with prostitution as their means of income. It speaks into the heart of how someone looking to pay for sex might rank the ‘worth of the commodity’ that is the human being he is paying for.
How can a young woman deemed attractive enough to command £200 a night be ‘worth’ more than a woman who works on a dark street because no parlour will take her any more? There is a truth that we at Beyond the Streets want to shout from the rooftops: each woman, each person affected by prostitution is worth more than money can buy. The feeling that she has little worth because she has sells sex, whatever price she can command is often high up on the list of things that keep a woman doing it.
One of our workers has been talking on the phone regularly with a woman for several months now. When she first started calling, she felt suicidal, like it wasn’t ‘worth’ living any more. This is what she had to say recently,
“I have started to look after myself and feel much better now. Calls every two weeks show the progress I have made, as I have got more respect and take care of myself and now got more social life, its great having someone that cares who will listen to me, and made me realise I’m worth more than what I was putting self through.” (Quoted with permission)
That makes it all worthwhile. These subtle revelations of self worth are the small steps along the journey that with time, allow women to gain sight of the possibility of a life free from prostitution.
Words By Miriam Hargreaves, Support Worker and Clinical lead for Beyond Support – our free call-back support service for women exploited through prostitution.
This #NOvemberCampaign we’re reminding the world of women’s worth by saying no to sexual exploitation. Inspired by Miriam’s words on worth? Join the campaign here.