Pretty woman, ugly trade

The other day a crack whore shouted at me. Or I thought she did. Every now and again, on a corner near my home there are one or two sex workers plying their trade. If there was scale of prostitutes with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman at the top, these women would be at the other end. The scraping the barrel end of the scale. The only thing going for them, in terms of getting work, is that they are young. But other than that, they are skinny, pale (even the black ones) and angry.

I was looking at one of these women, as I walked by the other day, wondering what had happened to her. What twists her life had taken which meant she had to have sex with strangers to earn money. To stand on a Hackney street corner, two days before Christmas, doesn’t indicate a life well lived, full of luck and opportunity. I wondered if she was an eastern European who had been tricked into coming to this country. I wondered if she was hooked on crack or smack. I wondered if she was scared, or more scared than usual, because of the women who had been murdered in Suffolk.

Then she started shouting (at me I thought at the time but apparently it was at another woman nearby who had had a go at her)

‘What the f**k? Why are you f**king staring at me, just because I’m standing here. None of your f**king business, you stuck up b*tch..’

She was local, sounded in fact like a Hackney girl. She could have gone to my school.

I have very mixed feeling about these women, I feel sorry for them, but I wish they weren’t standing on a street near my house. I think it is appalling that they have to have sex with men they don’t want to, in dark corners. That they have to put their lives at risk, from fists and feet and from unprotected sex. Would it be better for them if prostitution was legalised. Would they be safer?

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