More than you might think, as our beautiful new film shows.
On Tuesday (29 July 2019) we released our latest animation: “What’s A Nice Girl Like You Doing in A Job Like This?” created in partnership with sex worker campaign group the English Collective of Prostitutes.
Made from around 7,000 hand painted images by animator Tom Senior, it depicts two women similarly struggling to make ends meet under the immense pressure and precariousness of their respective jobs.
The film opens in a hospital maternity ward as a mother and father look dotingly at their newborn.
Their midwife, Sarah, opens up about the sacrifices many in her profession make for the love of what they do.
“A lot of us work part time and make do with having less money in order to do midwifery because it’s so stressful,” she says, adding that she is on her feet for around 11 hours at a time.
“There’s a saying that midwives working conditions are women’s birthing conditions.”
“If it’s not good for us, it’s not good for the people we’re caring for.”
We then segue into the home of sex worker Mary, who shakes raindrops from her drenched umbrella as she returns from another tiring night on the job.
She speaks candidly about being hit with a criminal record after she was arrested by the police for working in a brothel.
While it isn’t illegal to sell sex in the UK, many practical aspects of sex work are criminal offences. For instance, brothel-keeping laws make it illegal for two or more sex workers to work together from the same premises.
“I was working with other women,” Mary says. “The only way to work legally is by yourself, which is obviously a lot more dangerous.”
Pouring herself a brew, she reflects on those dark days.
“In 2012, [the police] raided lots of premises trying to clean up the city for the Olympics and all they did was displace lots of workers.”
“I work by myself now because I don’t want to get arrested,” she says. “But if something went wrong, I wouldn’t call the police. I’d have to deal with it by myself.”
Mary sits contemplatively at her kitchen table, picturing the careers she could have, had she not been landed with a criminal conviction.
“I couldn’t work with children anymore,” she says. “I couldn’t work with vulnerable people, I couldn’t work in care homes.”
She fears her conviction would be flagged under the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks required to work in these roles.
“So, basically what was a little job that helped me pay back the debts I got from drama school, turned into a full-time career.”
Sarah and Mary are, respectively, but two of the many thousands of people working in midwifery and the sex trade.
While their jobs may seem, on the face of things, very different – they share a similar basic struggle for adequate working conditions and respect for their rights.
We hope this animation helps strip away stigma and prejudice, and encourages readers to think again about the rights and safety of sex workers. Watch the full thing here:
All this week (from 29 July 2019), RightsInfo is devoting its coverage to the issue of sex workers’ rights and safety. We are publishing a series of stories from a range of experts including sex workers themselves.
What to know more? Why not read:
- How animation can shift perceptions sex workers’ rights.
- Conservative commission’s sex work proposals are ‘dangerous’, says Tory politician.
- A specialist nurse explains the difference between sex work and trafficking.
- Sex workers’ rights ‘a pipe dream’ while criminalisation exists, experts says.