Ex-prostitute backs calls from MPs to rethink sex trade criminal charges

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A former prostitute has described her experiences following a call from MPs to remove criminal charges against women working in sex trade.

Charlotte, who worked as a prostitute in Crawley and Horley for about 10 years, said she has struggled to find a job since she gave up the business two years ago.

She spoke to the Observer as MPs called for laws criminalising women working as prostitutes to be scrapped and replaced with tough new penalties targeting customers and pimps.

Charlotte – who has been given a fake name to hide her identity – said being given a criminal record made it even harder for prostitutes to get out of the trade as it closed many other doors to them when it came to earning a living.

Regarding prostitution, Charlotte said the business was far more disturbing than people realised as women were expected to perform unsanitary, unsafe and upsetting acts in order to stay employed by brothels.

She said many of the girls got into the industry for the money but became addicted to it because they started to rely on the quick cash.

Charlotte said: “Once you start you get addicted but it’s the vilest job. Although you know you’re being abused you carry on.”

Charlotte added that many prostitutes were addicted to drugs or had partners or family members who forced them into the trade.

She said: “I knew a girl who’s mother used to call her and ask her how many she’d done.”

However she added that men who buy into the sex trade could be just as victimised as the prostitutes themselves.

Charlotte said she felt sorry for many of the clients she met, most of whom were addicted to her service, spent all their earnings on it and did not feel good about themselves.

One example she gave involved a man who was addicted to sadomasochism – role playing which involves inflicting pain – and he paid her hundreds of pounds per service.

Charlotte ran a brothel in Horley for about four years but it was closed down by the police.

She said more needed to be done to close brothels and stop women getting involved in the industry in the first place before they got caught in the vicious cycle.