When you think about a good person … who do you think about? Maybe it’s family, friends, a celebrity or a teacher. Perhaps it’s an activist? For me it’s a prostitute. Yeah, a person that is a sex worker.
Though it is mostly illegal in the United States, it is indeed legal in Senegal. Society always has a single story about sex work. In films, prostitutes are often portrayed as women who are over-sexualized or helpless victims. Usually when someone calls someone else a prostitute, they mean it with a negative connotation and as a way to degrade someone. Continuously, society has been trying to exclude prostitutes and consider the work taboo. Beliefs regarding prostitution like in Christianity or Islam talk about respecting the body and goes against having sexual intercourse before marriage.
So all this time we have been talking about why it’s bad but have you ever wondered why people do it? The story of this young women; coming from a family that was financially struggling and later needing to support her young child, she decided to enter sex work because it was more or less stable than other jobs. Although it was her choice, she felt ashamed of being a prostitute which also served as one of the reasons why she didn’t tell anyone in her family not even her son. Since she knew that her parents wouldn’t accept the money she decided to lie to them and tell them that she earned it by working in a shop. From earning 10,000 to 50,000 CFA per night, she told us that all the money was going towards the well-being of her family. What didn’t surprise me was that there are for a fact so many women like her that are put into a situation of self-sacrifice for the means of others especially family. She has hopes and dreams of becoming a businesswoman and one day own her own shop. I couldn’t express how touched I was by having her share her story with us but when it finally came time to say goodbye I expressed my deepest gratitude and told her how courageous she was for doing something that society will judge you for.
I can’t deny that I also had assumptions about her which made me feel guilty as I continued listening to her story.