Shereen El Feki of BBC News reported this week that legal brothels in the African nation of Tunisia are on their last legs; victims of “pressure from women’s rights activists and religious conservatives” – primarily Ennahda, Tunisia’s Islamist party.
This mirrors similar efforts by religious conservatives to close legal brothels in rural Nevada.
Some excerpts from the article..
Tunisia has a two-tier system of prostitution. One is made up of government-registered “maisons closes”, or brothels, where female sex workers are authorised by the state to ply their trade. The other involves illegal freelance sex work, where the people involved risk up to two years in prison if convicted.
When Amira, 25, started working in Sfax five years ago, there were 120 legal sex workers. Now she is one of a dozen left.
“We used to make a living for our children, pay our rent. We don’t anymore. Actually, I don’t have anything else. If they kick us from there, where we would go?” …
Over in Tunis, Nadia, a divorcee in her 40s, knows the answer all too well.
She misses her life in the legal system: “It is not the same as when we were in the protected brothel, with a doctor [for weekly medical exams], a female condom and a madam [who kept an eye on proceedings].”
“Now when I get a client I am scared because I don’t have anyone who can protect me or stand by my side. …
Afef, a former madam whose brothel was recently shuttered, explained the difficulties.
“Even if [a former sex worker] goes to work in a restaurant to clean dishes,” she said, “one or two days later, they will say that this woman was working in a brothel and the boss would say: ‘Sorry I cannot hire you.'”
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