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It’s often a background with poverty, unemployment, drug use, homelessness – and, not least, a general loss of trust in the social system.They feel that there is a shortage of alternatives to sex trading.” To understand how sex trading can be viewed as the easiest solution, we need to take an interest in the women’s backgrounds.In fact, it is perceived as a solution to some problems,” says Bjønness.When women sell sex, they are primarily regarded as ‘prostitutes’ and victims of male lust.This rigid view of sex traders has the consequence that the women feel walked over, because they do not see themselves as victims.
It may seem as if the women think of sex trading as an entirely positive thing, but that’s not the case:“Sex trading is paradoxical for the women.They regard the money earned from their sex trading as ‘easy money’, compared to the alternatives: committing crime or dating a drug dealer.” When I started on my project, I believed – just like my surroundings – that sex trading was the biggest problem in these women’s lives.But as I got to know them better I realised that they actually perceive their sex trading as the solution to their financial problems. The women see sex trading as a free choice, but according to Bjønness’s analysis it is not a free choice.The women, however, see themselves as independent women who act based on what options are available to them.(Photo: Colourbox)From 2001 to 2005, she carried out her ethnographic fieldwork at a drop-in centre for women who trade sex and take drugs.
In other words, it’s not the people that are different; it’s the context they live in,” says Bjønness.