#FacesOfProstitution selfies challenge the public perception of sex work

What comes to mind when you think of a prostitute? Perhaps a drug addict who can afford her habit by being a sex worker? Maybe a woman who’s been molested and abused at some point and has fallen into a life of sexual exploitation?

The face of prostitution is varied and complex, with both women and men taking to social media to show that being a sex worker is more than the tragedies and stereotypes. They do it by choice and they enjoy their work, too.

In response to an article that was published on the Exodus Cry and then republished on Mamamia (which has since been removed at time of writing) about the film Pretty Woman and how it glamourises prostitution, sex workers across Australia and the world have taken to social media to show that not all prostitutes are “tragic” and “abused and battered” women.

The stats published by Mamamia included that:

  • Seventy-five per cent of female prostitutes have been raped.
  • Ninety-five per cent have been physically abused.
  • Sixty-eight per cent “suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder”.
  • The majority become prostitutes because of their history of sexual abuse.

But, as news.com.au pointed out, none of those statistics were sourced.

In response to the article, Sydney sex worker, Tilly Lawless, created the hashtag #FacesOfProstitution to share that while, yes, the industry does have its share of problems and danger associated with the work, some people actually enjoy being a sex worker and they deserve to be supported and respected.

“There is no singular story or person to represent the varied and complex experiences of all sex workers, but here is one face of prostitution among a myriad,” Lawless shared on Instagram.

After Lawless’ emotional insight into her job of choice, other sex workers, both men and women, have shared their own experiences with the job in the hope that the added media attention will actually help them to secure more rights and respect.

“I’m empowered, contributing to society and living the life of my dreams! I’m not a victim, nor am I a survivor. I am however, a prostitute. And I love my job, my clients and my life! #sexworkiswork #rightsnotrescue,” shared Madison Missina on Instagram.

These men and women have also shared their stories on social media, eager to change the face and the stigma associated with being a sex worker.

What do you think about the #FacesOfProstitution campaign? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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