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Although they are condemned in terms of cultural and religious aspects, their existence cannot be denied. No rational person would take up sex work over the choice of other work. No parent or teacher dreams of a child to sell their bodies. Even in countries where prostitution is legal, there are no institutes to specialise in sex work. Then why is this popular? How come it is trending? It was recently revealed that there are about 50 Lankan women engaged in prostitution.
Sex workers have become a part of the community and should be given correct attention. This is quite a sensitive topic and is hard to approach, as the widespread notion is that prostitutes corrupt society and bring negative values to the social structure. While poverty tops the list, coercion and desperation may be other reasons for women to be inclined towards sex work. In many instances the need to provide for children would drive divorced or widowed women opting for sex work.
That reasoning goes to the thousands of child-burdened war-widows especially in the North and North-East, who have suddenly become bread winners without education or employable skills.
Drugs, human trafficking and failed adolescent experimentation could be other possible rationales. We are often filled with news about brothels being raided and prostitutes being arrested. Should sex workers be given legal recognition or should they continue to be as they are? What are the real reasons behind the demanding of legal rights for sex work? Are there other ways to deal with the destitute situation of women in Sri Lanka?
When we are destitute we cannot kill or steal for money like men do. What we can do is sell our bodies. We do it for our children, we do it for ourselves. I have taken this as an occupation because of my husband. My husband passed away many years ago, and I was helpless. I have two sons to nurture and I have to do something to ensure their well being. Their education, health and comfort are the priorities in my mind. I did not know anything about being a prostitute when I started, I was scared, but now I am very happy.