Sat Jun 10th, 2006 at 02:01:52 PM EST
Below are excerpts from an address by Rosinha Sambo to the Taipei Sex Worker Conference in 2001, titled "On the Situation of Sex Workers in Sweden."
As the Swedish prostitution policy model has come up in various ET threads on human trafficking and prostitution, I thought it would be interesting to hear some of the ET community's thoughts and responses to Rosinha's perspective of the Swedish model.
The full transcript and an audio file (Real Player) of her address can be found here.
To be a sex worker in Sweden, is dangerous. It's a hell- mostly dangerous. We don't know anymore, what, or how to do it. What we have in Sweden, it's a law who doesn't make us any good, and doesn't give us any choice. Government in Sweden wants to rehabilitate us, to rehabilitate the sex worker, just like we are victims of some kind of dangerous sickness. Rehabilitate us as we could spread around this sickness.
I have, in vain, tried to explain, for politics, feminists, and other ignorant intellectuals, that this is a work, and that's why this is also a choice. I have tried to explain that we should instead, have classes, on sex work. To do it more safe, and better- especially for the younger generation of sex workers in this country now.
All the Swedish Government does is abstract our work of trying to make it easier for the younger ones. It's very difficult in Sweden right now. Very, very, difficult. Specially the health question. The health question, it's in the air and nobody seems to care about it. The sex workers are victims of everyone's dangerous.
She have to protect her customers in order to keep them. She's exposed to all sorts of criminals, psychos, sadists, because she must protect the customer. Well, the problem is that Sweden lives on the looks- how does it looks like for the rest of the world. That's the most important for the Swedish, ah, Government. They wanna look good, but they don't really care, how are we do it. Well, the polity, the politicians, they know very well that sex work continues, and that they have completely failed in their ridiculous try, to get rid of us. This is how we know that. Only because they don't see us, it doesn't mean we don't exist. They know that.
But of course, Sweden is very far away from most of the rest of this planet, so not everybody go to Sweden every month to see how the hookers are doing.
Well, one of the worse consequences with this law, is that there comes a lot of underage prostitution in Sweden. The Mafia come inside- the Russian Mafia that has nothing to do with Sweden... come into Sweden with a lot of kidnapped young girls, older womens, all ages. A lot of Swedish hookers get killed because they can't call the Police any more. Because if they call the Police, the word goes around that they put a call to the cops, come by that they got problems, and they lose all their customers. So a lot of, um, women have got killed, and men. Prostitutes, sex workers. Just like me. Just like many of us. Others have moved. Others have, ah, start, to drink too much, lost their children, and so on, and so on.
Okay, for me, three years ago, before this law came, I was living with my two children. And now, I'm not. I have to put my children in Portugal, and be more careful before the Welfare comes and take them away, it's a little excuse. It's very easy for a prostitute to lose her children now in Sweden.
Swedish sex workers now go to Norway, the neighbour country, it's only some hours from Sweden when you go there through the train, and work there. But of course, if I live 6 or 5 hours, 7 hours, away from, ah, Norway, I can't go back home every day. And that means that I have to have a baby-sitter. And that means that I have to trust that baby-sitter very much.
...And also it overloads the Norwegian sex market. The Norwegian hookers are getting crazy....their prices in Norway have caved down, because of the Swedish law... Norway finds itself, with Danish and Swedish hooker. And they don't know what to do anymore, in Norway... It's a problem, it's a big problem...
...the Swedish Government is being very selfish here. Because as long as they look good, out to the other, with their fellow conservative idiots of the rest of the world, they're happy. They don't care about putting the problems in the neighbour's garden.
But the normal sex worker, who has children in Norway, and bills to pay, is resenting very much because, she doesn't get enough money any more to pay her bills because there comes a lot of other people that was not there before and ah, make the market much cheaper, and ah, customers disappear, is tough. Complete tough. And it will happen the same in all countries that are neighbours to countries who copy the Swedish model. It's a dangerous model, for the neighbours. For us is very terrible, for us, the sex workers, that live in these countries, with these laws, like Sweden have right now. For us it's terrible.
I went to, high school, but I still feel like I graduate. I graduate in prostitution. I know more about prostitution. I could say, I'm a doctor of prostitution. And that's why I'm sitting here, talking to you today. And that's also why, I wanna call a very huge SOS to Sweden, because all countries, trying to copy Sweden in this obviously terrible, and worthless, and fruitless law. I want to call your attention, because Sweden, it's, a very strong example, where that position can bring us to. Where the law, so-called law and order can bring us to. Well, if they won't step back, we shouldn't step back either. If they are a model now, and they want to continue to be a model, we will let them be a model, and make sure that they will fail internationally.
And, that they will recognise their mistake, because, as a model they are being watched, and everybody will see them fail. Well, every country that have learned of Sweden, and is trying to hound us away from the face of the earth, they should only need to see that it doesn't work like this, and that, we can only do from Sweden.
All countries have their eyes on Sweden, in this issue, and that's why I'm here, for one more time to appeal to all my colleagues, from all over the world.