One Ontario woman talks about her willingness to do anything to get her fix, which is why she has worked the streets for the past five years. According to MyKawartha.com, Angel (not her real name) is only out on the streets when she wants more. When she has the money for more, she stays home. "More" is the street name she commonly uses for crack cocaine.
Angel said, "Because that's all you ever want, more." She is in her 40s, and has been prostituting for the last five years. She has a place to live through community resources, and she does not go hungry. But, she continues to prostitute to support her habit. In search of the next fix, she offers sex to strangers for as little as $20 for oral sex and $40 for the "real thing."
Angel said, "It's not complicated. I stand on the side of the street until a car pulls up. He'll ask what I'm doing, I tell him, and away we go." Her price varies form customer to customer, and many barter for a cheaper rate. On a good night, she makes as much as $200, which could mean servicing 15 to 20 different men.
Angel says the men rarely ask anything about her life. To them, she is just a face and a body, offering pleasure. Admitting it is not a glamourous job, she said, "But, I'm lost in the drugs right now." Angel calls her crack dealer several times a day, often buying $10 and $20 worth at a time. She said, "I'd like to buy more, but there's never enough money."
Angel says when she is sober, she thinks about getting high. But when she is high, she doesn't think about anything. She claims she would like to get off drugs, but she just can't right now.
Donna Rogers, who is the executive director at Fourcast, which helps local residents fight substance abuse through education, counseling, and community resources, says that 40% of the centers admissions are women. Donna says a small portion of them are involved in prostitution. She said, "We hear a lot of people say they have sex in exchange for drugs, or a place to stay. Some say it's the only way they can support their family." Women sometimes tell Donna they do not have a choice but to continue sleeping with someone because they have nowhere else to go.
Angel often works much of the afternoon, often on into the evenings. Her clients usually find a place to park, and Angel does her job in their cars. She said she has only been taken to a house on two occasions. Angel claims to have about five regulars, and she said she has never been hurt by a client.
In her 40s, Angel finds it hard to compete with the younger women, often in their early 20s, who have come to work the streets more frequently. Angel said, "They get picked up more. They are so young, they haven't experienced anything in life." She said she tries to tell these girls that "hooking" isn't their only option. "They're young, they don't want to listen. I always feel like I'm repeating myself but even if it changes one girl's mind, that's all I want."
Local police are not a problem for Angel. She said, "They know me and I know them, and there's a very honest and fair relationship there." Local police feel the same way. Inspector Tim Farquharson said their first concern of the prostitutes is safety, which is why they have only made two prostitution charges in the last two years. He said, "We don't want to re-victimize the victims." He believes charging prostitutes will not solve the underlying issues, including drug abuse. Tim also said, "On the face of the problem, it's the drug abuse that's driving these women, but the problem goes a lot deeper than that."
Although the actual numbers of prostitutes are not recorded, Tim estimates that there were five local prostitutes that worked the streets ten years ago, and by 2008 there were 26, with the youngest being 14-years-old. Police collaborate with community agencies, like Peterborough Aids Reduction and Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, to take a proactive approach to prostitution. Tim said, "It's more about trying to be of assistance to these women. We don't want to lose any souls to abuse and we certainly don't want to investigate any missing persons cases." Tim Farquharson says Angel's safe working-record is lucky, especially in this sex trade on the street level. He said, "The streets aren't a safe place to be."
Although Angel speaks candidly about her job, she also claims she does not want to be there. She said, "It's just the way it is." She claims to have come to terms with her life and her job. Angel said, "I have people in my life that don't judge me. I don't judge me either. I'm just chasing that drug. And for now, I'll continue to chase."
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- Item Tag: prostitution and addiction