Friday, July 31, 2009

review: Jody Peters

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Now a new review of mine of the book:
“Een haar per dag, dertig maanden in de prostitutie” [A hair a day, thirty months in prostitution] by Jody Peters and Michiel Hegener (1988)

Jody Peters [fictitious name] is a Dutch woman (Michiel Hegener is the ghostwriter) who has been coerced to work in prostitution (in the the Netherlands) by a pimp starting from approximately 19 years of age, using the same old romantic techniques: first manipulating her to work in prostitution voluntarily, then steadily using more violence. As a child she was abused by a paedophile. She escaped with the help of an American client whom she falled in love with (he also with her).

At first she worked in clubs, then behind windows. It is unclear when this took place, but I guess during the end of the seventies or the beginning of the early nineties. This is a book I didn’t know existed but I coincidentally stumbled upon it in a library.

My eyes opened, closed and are now opening again. But still a voice within me still says that her story is just an exception. But hey, perhaps I can convert Laura. Have you all heard about Laura?

Laura is dreaming (and I'm just gossiping, I still have a concrete head).

Okay some translated quotes from the Dutch book (my eyes are closing, almost sleeping). I also selected some of these quotes because in my opinion it proves that
1. There are ways to beat up a woman without seeing bruises.
2. Prostitutes lie towards the police and the police about working voluntary or not (they probably also lie to researchers).

Below are only quotes:
(page 60) He hit me everywhere where he could hit me without lowering my market value – in my face only when I had a day off in front of me to let the welts fade away.

(page 72-73) A couple of weeks after I came to work in the Applegarden [not the real name of the club], two police officers of the vice police came by for a talk with each of the newly hired girls – except for the illegal girls: they quickly disappeared into the dressing-room. In a separate little room I was allowed to give answers to: ‘Do you do this work voluntarily?’ and: ‘Do you feel well here?’
Of course I did it voluntarily, and obviously I liked it. The idea to tell my life story to two perfect strangers was not appealing. Because of their questions the police officers painfully confirmed that I was a prostitute – much more than the clients, they [the clients] simply close their eyes to that. This was the vice police, the police for whores. It was humiliating like this already. If I said: ‘No, I don’t work voluntarily at all and I’m beaten up weekly’, it would be even more humiliating. And it wouldn’t be without effect: everything, my whole life would come into motion and I would be at the mercy of the unlimited rage of Carlos. If I would or wouldn’t tell it to the police, it wouldn’t make a difference, because no protection around the world was big enough to protect me against my pimp.
Within five minutes the conversation was over. If there unexpectedly would be any problems, they said kindly, I could always knock on their door, they would help me in any case. And I thought: Nobody could help me in the situation where I’m in now.

(page 123) To her [another prostitute] and several other girls I confided how Carlos treated me and they told me about their pimps. Behind the window next to me a divorced woman worked for a while who had a son as pimp. When it was necessary, he also battered her - once even while I was there.
There were also pimps who had their girls so well under their thumb with psychological threats and manipulations, that they didn't need to batter. With the pimps who did, they had in common that they meant much or even everything to their girl. When you have nothing else at all, you even care about someone who leeches on you, intimidates you and maltreats you. I found out that nearly each girl in the [window prostitution] street did have a pimp to whom they had to hand over her money.

(page 125) Inevitably my own life came up for discussion every now and then, and to all clients, everybody, I lied. Everybody got to hear a version of the becoming-rich-quickly-in-prostitution-story that nearly all girls tell: I did this a couple of years, everything went on the bank account, and after this, I would never had money troubles again. I would rather tell that than that I had already let me bullyrag me for two years by a psychopath who gambled away all my money or handed it out to his friends, and who beat me black and blue weekly because I never made enough money. Clients who saw me as a keen business lady who had it all arranged well, respected me more. To achieve that I gladly lied. It was the only respect that I could get.

(page 150) [Jody falls in love with a John and can't stand the clients anymore] Now only after two and a half years in prostitution, it got through me how inhumane my work was. I had allowed a couple of thousand perfect strangers to do the most intimate things to me, without impressing me.

(page 165) I wanted to write this book for a very long time because in my opinion there are in general large misunderstandings about prostitution. The image of the Happy Hooker that many have of prostitutes, for example. If feel this image is damaging: it hushes up the role of pimps, the exploitation and the gross physical abuse which is used to keep a large majority of the prostitutes in their grip. In the years that I was in prostitution myself, I never encountered a Happy Hooker.
The world of prostitution is still opaque and dark. Information to the outside world is still impeded – in the first place by pimp-intimidation, but also because many prostitutes themselves have difficulties recognizing the dreadful situation where they are in. The result is that often there are criminal and inhumane thing happening of which the rest of society has no knowledge.
With the help of Michiel Hegener I hope to have compiled a book that will open the eyes of many people to the pure slavery which prostitution is in most cases.

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