What to call Prostituted Women & Children

I’ve been working a long time to help protect women and children who have been forced into prostitution through their addictions, poverty, history of sexual abuse and vulnerability, and find that the language used to describe these typically abused and disempowered women is really problematic. I agree with this from Ruchira Gupta, the activist and documentary filmmaker widely recognized for her work as an advocate for prostituted women and children:

Gupta also realises how, over the years, sensitive subjects get glossed over with problematic vocabulary. “We do not use the term ‘sex worker’ anymore because we believe it’s so inherently exploitative that we do not want to define it as work under any circumstances. So, we use the term ‘prostituted child’, because there is no such thing as a child prostitute—someone did it to the child. And we use the term ‘prostituted woman’. We realise the patriarchy of the system that is exploiting the vulnerabilities of these girls and women.”

Vogue India

(As an aside, I was just talking with a friend about how we used to read Vogue “for the articles”; you don’t expect topics like this from Vogue, and yet I read so many like it. This is from Vogue India, and India is of course known as one of the worst places to be a woman–and is often ranked the worst–in multiple studies. It was often first, with Afghanistan coming in second, but they may now have switched spots.)

Author: Caterina Fake

Literature, Art, Poetry, Homeschooling Mother. Founder & CEO, Findery. Co-founder, Flickr & Hunch.