Forced prostitute still 'happy' with her job in prostitution
Remember Svetlina from Jojanneke her TV show 'Jojanneke in de Prostitutie'? The girl that was forced and pimped into prostitution against her will? Remember how terrible she felt doing this job, calling it 'degrading and humiliating' and seeing this job as 'selling her body'. The picture we got of Svetlina was a sad story, forced against her will into a job she didn't want to do, and even seemingly seemed to hate. The picture we got of this sad Bulgarian girl was clear, a girl who never would have wanted to do prostitution, was forced by a brutal pimp into this profession. It begged the question whether or not prostitution was a choice or not. Fortunately Jojanneke stated that Svetlina 'used to work' behing the windows. Thank God that girl was out of her terrible situation, and not having to do this 'terrible' job anymore, right?

Well, guess again. Because the same girl, Svetlina, is still working in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, and already featured in two other documentaries before in the same period, and each time her stories seems to be a bit different. During the TV show of Jojanneke she was completely forced against her will to do a job she hated. But back in 2012 she went on Dutch TV for BNN, to claim she was forced into this job from 2008, but not anymore, because now she was 'one of the few' girls doing this job without a pimp.

And while the TV show of Jojanneke was being shot in the period of 2013 and 2014, Svetlina featured in another documentary called Right Light Conversations, in which she states she could do another job, but simply doesn't want to. In fact, her choice of career doesn't get the approval of her mother, but she doesn't care, she's doing the things which make her happy. She's totally willingly consciously doing this job, despite the clear disapproval of her family. Quit a different perspective from what we got from the TV show of Jojanneke.



All of the sudden this woman, who seemingly seemed to hate prostitution during the TV show of Jojanneke, calling it degrading and humiliating, and seeing it as 'selling her body', is apparently still doing the same job even after she was forced. And she does not seem to want to quit this job, despite the disapproval of her mother, and despite the fact that she has other choices, but she simply doesn't want to do something different.
It could be part of the 'creative' editing method Jojanneke used to frame sex workers as victims, and clients as evildoers who are ignorant and not caring. But looking at the different stories Svetlina tells in her different appearances, it's not to say only Jojanneke is to blame.

In 2012, during her BNN performance, Svetlina claimed she came here 4 years ago with her pimp, meaning back in 2008. While a year later, in 2013, she claims in a documentary that two or three years ago (2010-2011), she lived in the streets of Bulgaria for a year. So, how can the same person be at two different places at the same time? At one time she came her already back in 2008, and in the other story she came here between 2010 and 2011, after having lived in the streets of Bulgaria for about a year. But more interestingly, how can one claim in one TV show her work was degrading and humiliating, calling it 'selling her body', while in another documentary it shows she's still working, calling herself 'lucky', not willing to change her job, and being happy with her career choice? She also calls her customers nice and funny, sometimes even missing her customers if she doesn't see them for a while.

How do these things add up to the stories we heard from her in the TV show of Jojanneke? In the TV show of Jojanneke she was a sad victim of abuse, who was forced into prostitution against her will, seemingly hating the job. While in the other documentary all of the sudden she wouldn't want to change her job, loving her job, and totally being happy with working behind the windows?
I don't know if this is just creative editing of Jojanneke, but also the story of this girl simply doesn't add up. Her timeline doesn't add up at times, and her statements at times seem to contradict each other.

I don't know if this girl really was forced or not, as her statements at times contradict each other, as well as her sentiments about the job itself. But if she was forced into prostitution, it just proves one thing. She's still working! So apparently, even though she was forced into this job, know that she has the choice, she still chooses to do prostitution. So after all the bad things that supposedly happened to her, she still prefers to do this job, over any other job, even though she can choose to do something different at any moment.

It's an image I recognize from a Bulgarian friend of mine. It's the only girl I've ever met that was forced. She used to be forced into this job, but after a while fought herself free, and went to the police to press charges against her pimp. She spend a year in a shelter, and got a job working in a restaurant. And guess what? After a year of working in a restaurant, she wanted to go back into prostitution again! So even though she had the choice, just like Svetlina, she still choose prostitution over another job. And we're still talking about whether or not women are willing to do this job, if even ex-victims are still willing to do this job?

To me it just proves one thing. Prostitution is a choice, unless you are forced into it. But just because you are forced into this job, doesn't mean you don't want to do this job. It just means you don't want to be exploited and forced. The forcing and the exploitation stands separate from the job itself. We would have the same situation for someone that was forced into being an au-pair. People who are forced into that job, also don't like to be forced, to be taken advantage of, to be exploited. That however doesn't mean they hate being an au-pair. And the same thing is true about forced prostitution. Just because a prostitute was forced, doesn't mean she wasn't willing to do this job. In fact, Svetlina and my Bulgarian friend prove they are willing to do this job if they have the choice.

I'm tired of this whole discussion about whether or not prostitution is a choice. Just because there are victims that were forced into this job, doesn't mean they wouldn't want to do it. Svetlina and my Bulgarian friend are the living proof of this ,just like many others. Prostitution is a choice, but that doesn't mean you have to accept being forced by someone else or being exploited by someone. We want to work free, for ourselves, and not for someone else. That is something that applies to all sex workers, forced or not, exploited or not.

Update 22/07/2015: From a Tweet of one of my followers yesterday I got some more information about Svetlina her story. Apparently Svetlina already featured in the magazine S-Werk, a Dutch magazine published by the former union for sex workers De Rode Draad. She even featured in that magazine as cover girl.

In the interview in S-Werk it becomes clear that Svetlina was already working in prostitution before she got into contact with her pimp. So much for being forced into a job she didn't want to do. Apparently she was an art student back in Bulgaria, and after a fight with her mother, she left the house. After first working at a bar, she ended up working in prostitution in Bulgaria. There she met a guy that told her she could do this job in Holland without being exploited. She agreed and in 2008 went with him to Holland to work behind the windows here. Unfortunately he started to exploit her, but quickly after a month she got rid of her pimp, with the help of a client. Ever since than Svetlina has been working in the Red Light District, without a pimp, by choice.

It just shows once again how Jojanneke framed sex workers only to look like victims, but disregarded the fact that even ex-victims still like to work in prostitution, and the fact that they do this completely by their own choice. But more importantly, it proves that the choice to work in prostitution in the first place, was Svetlina her own choice. Nobody forced her into a job she didn't want to do, she was already doing this job before she ever met her pimp. She is a victim of exploitation, not a victim of coercion. Jojanneke nearly focused on the one month she was a victim of exploitation, and didn't report anything about the other 5+ years she has been working there by choice.

Dutch version


2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Or maybe she just sold a story.


  2. Prostitution is a profession, but women should not be forced by someone or exploited by someone.


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    Romanian prostitute working in the Red Light District in Amsterdam (De Wallen), speaking out for the truth behind prostitution. Blogging about prostitution, human trafficking, forced prostitution, politics and all the myths surrounding it. Member of PROUD, the Dutch union of sex workers.