A Christian Response to Prostitution?

Posted: July 21, 2012 in Bible, Christian, Healing, Jesus, Prostitution, Trafficking
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I wasn’t sure what to expect when a reminder popped up on my computer screen saying that it was just 15 minutes until I was due to interview Zee*, a former sex worker.  She was probably anxious as well, wondering how she would be received, having experienced extensive verbal abuse from local residents during her 10 years working on the streets, not to mention one incident of almost being killed.

A smiley, small-framed, youthful looking woman met me in reception.  She seemed a little nervous, but was very accommodating and polite.  After a short time we found ourselves discussing the gritty reality of what happens when you have an addiction to heroin, the drug which took this former school governor onto the streets to sell her body, resulting in her regularly being arrested and having to live in bin sheds.

When I asked, she couldn’t work out how many men she had ‘serviced’ during her stint as a prostitute but estimated that it would have been ‘hundreds, probably thousands’, grimacing to herself in disgust as she tried to count.  She has been through a lot in her decade as a prostitute and considers herself to have got off lightly with ‘only 20 rapes’ and some ‘broken ribs’, suggesting that she could have had it far worse.  Many of the girls who worked the same streets used to call her ‘mum’ because she was older than them.  Hearing about 16 year old girls, who are of an age to be sitting GCSE exams, hanging around our cities ready to jump in a car with a man was sobering.

When Zee still lived in a home (rather than in garages or behind dustbins) her only daughter was taken from her because she had allowed groups of drug takers into the house.  She quickly qualified the statement by reassuring me that the ‘druggies’ were never in the same room as the young girl.  It was a situation far removed from the life Zee used to have when she had a daily commute into the city wearing a suit.  Casual drug taking had spiralled out of control and heroin was ruling her every decision.

Deep remorse was conveyed through her eyes as she told me how she had let her daughter down.  Recently Zee celebrated a year of being clean but, even so, she still sees no signs of her daughter being willing to reconcile with her.  Their only form of communication is an occasional letter.  She seems to accept that the pain and hurt takes time to heal, constantly repeating the phrase, ‘God’s will, not my will’ during our chat.

As our conversation unfolded she littered the interview with references to prayer and theological concepts like free will, so I asked where that understanding had come from.  When Zee was working nights a group of women from local Churches had been out on the streets offering support to people like her.  Rather than holding placards of condemnation or lining the women up for stoning, these believers had offered free drinks, snacks and toiletries.  What was their motivation?  To show these ladies that they are loved and that someone cares about them.  It was a night when free goodie bags were being handed out that Zee told me she had chased after the women to get one, and it was then she got told that God loves her.  That encounter was one of a series of encounters which helped her get her life back on track.

Not all sex workers are in the industry because of drug addiction.  Tessa* was groomed from an early age by her father to make money for him, and was sent out as a teenager to hang around on street corners to attract attention.  Others have been tricked into thinking that they are being given a good job only to find themselves caught up in a network of traffickers.  Zee was her own boss, reporting that it was ‘easy enough’ to get started once you knew where the red light districts areas were.  She shared how she began by having some boundaries in place, such as only allowing herself to be with a man in a car, but desperation for drug money quickly caused her to let her guard down.  Going into clients homes was dangerous and risky, so if a ‘customer’ refused to pay she explained that she would put up a fight for a short while before running for her life – forsaking her £20.  I learnt that if you are in this industry getting beaten up is to be expected as part of the course.

Did she find the experience degrading?  Zee’s honesty with me was humbling.  She quietly explained, almost whispering, that her self esteem was rock bottom and that she dislikes her body.  Only now the emotional and psychological wounds are starting to surface in her life because previously she had been numb to what was going on because of the drugs.  She admits that she is on a journey, attending Church regularly, and praying that ‘God’s will, not my will’ prevails, but that the process of recovery will take time.

As Christians we are called to stand against injustice, to protect the vulnerable, to be a voice for the voiceless, to house the orphan and bring hope to those in despair, but to do so with love.  Jesus demonstrated this when the woman who was caught in adultery was jeered at and threatened with being stoned to death for her act.  His response was profound and controversial: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  (John 8:7).

Prayer: Lord, may we see others through Your eyes, may our words and actions be driven by love and a desire to see all people living life to the full.  Amen.

Inspiring quote: “Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure”. (2355 Catechism)

*Names changed.

(To leave a comment please click on the speech bubble on the top right of this post.  Thank you.)

©Maria Rodrigues-Toth

  1. Anon says:

    Thank you! A powerful story you have shared here. God bless

  2. jasperblackk says:

    “Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure”.

    I completely disagree that prostitution damages dignity, the whole idea of dignity is subjective. And the idea of being “reduced” to being a desirous and sexual individual is ridiculous; in the west to one degree or another the desire to appear physically beautiful, attractive and the desire to possess the ability to inspire desire in others is innate in all of us.

    In this article you haven’t distinguished between sexual slavery and prostitution; the two are not the same. Tessa was a victim, a sexual slave. Zee however did it by choice. Zee was a prostitute, she had the choice to do what she did and if she found it so degrading then she shouldn’t have gotten involved with the world of prostitution in the first place.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Jasper. Yes, I agree with you that there is a distinction between those who choose to go into the field and those who are forced. I think the point was that Zee found she was numbed to what was happening because of her addiction to heroin… it was only afterwards that she had regrets and wished she’d stopped sooner. Thank you for your reflection.

  3. Powerful article, sensitively written. Following in Christ’s footsteps on this earth is a mufti-faceted, challenging, agonizingly difficult walk, and limiting ourselves to attending Bible studies and regular church services doesn’t cut it when it comes to real life, real people, and real problems.

    Just because we can’t see inside people’s hearts doesn’t mean that we should be satisfied with their outside actions, attributing our interpretation of them as the truth. Thank you for writing this.

    • Thanks, {would insert your name here, but only know you as ‘middleagedplague’}. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Only started this weekend so learning the ropes.:-)

      • Welcome! I look forward to chatting more with you. My name is Carolyn — it’s at the top in the Middle Aged Plague title — but like most women on the planet, I go by many names!

  4. Marianne says:

    deeply sad over this….may God help them all

  5. olivenem says:

    Thank you so much for this article.. Amazing story and huge praises to God that Zee now knows she is a daughter of God. I head up a small group of women in Manchester who pray outside a brothel and bless the women however we can. Cupcakes is our next idea, we are waiting for God to open up conversations. Thank you so much for the encouraging story that small groups who go out in prayer and in love WILL see God move in this huge injustice. Great blog. xx

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