This is our truth, tell us yours
Running the @whorephobia twitter account you would meet people from across the world, sometimes when time zones cooperated I would chat with someone from the Philippine sex workers union account, @sex_workers. They are fighting the criminalization of clients, stigma in a Catholic country,police corruption, American charities determined to infantilize women of colour and just getting by as we all do.
As I watch the news from the Philippines, with the devastation beamed into our warm safe living room, those are not the conversations I am remembering. We talked of how we cope with the lean times. I learnt that the rainy season creates new problems due to a shortage of clients. Every sex worker knows those internal debates when there are children to feed and bills to pay. Do you reduce your rates? Do you agree to do things you would previously declined or see clients who your internal alarms warn you against? They pointed out that these are the times when there are fights and disagreements, as one person reducing their rates leaves everyone under pressure to do so. Our lives may have been very different but so much we recognised.
We talked of not being able to buy the things our children wanted and they recounted a story of staring into a sweet shop as a child, counting the pennies and staring with longing at treats they would never be able to afford.
I was always struck by the fact they had to do their online activism, their attempt to be heard against the rich and powerful rescue industry, from an internet cafe, having a collection to pay the cost. They were trying to source a second-hand computer, and unknown to them I was working with some followers of @whorephobia in South east Asia to try to get one to them. It didn’t seem much, something we would give away to the charity shop in the UK that would help them in their fight for rights.
Right now a computer seems the least of anyones worries in the Philippines. No one even knows how many are dead, I don’t even know where my Filipino sister was based, if she is safe, if her friends or family are. I thought of trying to fundraise, but how and where to send it seemed such huge obstacles, so instead I am writing, and sending my love. Two strangers linked by a job and twitter. It’s not much, but it is all I can think of to do, and perhaps you can do the same.
There may be a consolation, the people strong enough to write this will not be defeated:
We must serve notice to our self-appointed saviours/masters that their time is up. They can’t take our jobs away from us in the same way we can’t take them away from their careers even if they have built them under our expense. Under the bus is no place for any human. And yes, whatever the society or anyone thinks of us, we are human beings deserving of every right accorded everybody else. Those rights are not for anyone to dispense. It is for us to claim and we are going to claim them.
Those of faith might pray to their Gods, those without send messages of love, hope and solidarity. To my sisters and brothers so far away remember you are not alone, and many are thinking of you, wishing we could help.