In the midst of all the outrage about modern-day slavery, usually vulnerable men forced into manual labour, there is actually a far worse form of abuse going on in the UK. It happens in every city, town and even village. It’s endemic to every culture and region of the world, and yet these days we justify it in the name of ‘liberation’. We’ve become accustomed to thinking of prostitution as a legitimate way of earning a living, even ‘empowering’ for women. We call it ‘sex work’ and look away. We should not.
For the last three years I’ve been investigating prostitution worldwide to test the conventional wisdom of it being a career choice, as valid as any other. I conducted 250 interviews in 40 countries, interviewed 50 survivors of the sex trade, and almost all of them told me the same story: don’t believe the ‘happy hooker’ myth you see on TV. In almost every case it’s actually slavery. The women who work as prostitutes are in hock and in trouble. They’re in need of rescue just as much as any of the more fashionable victims of modern slavery.
One of the most disturbing discoveries I made was that the loudest voices calling for legalisation and normalisation of prostitution are the people who profit from it: pimps, punters and brothel owners. They have succeeded in speaking for the women under their control. The people who know the real story about the sex trade have been gagged by a powerful lobby of deluded ‘liberal’ ideo-logues and sex-trade profiteers.
As Autumn Burris, a former prostitute from California, who escaped in the late 1990s, told me: ‘I had to tell myself lots of things, lots of lies, in order to keep my brain from splitting into a million pieces and me going crazy with the continual abuse that was happening over and over and over, and the violence that goes along with prostitution.’