He blackmailed me by threatening to tell everyone, including my family.”The man was violent, and Muñoz extricated herself with the help of a friend, whom she later married.
Haunted by the control her ex-boyfriend had exerted over her, she founded in 2009 a small faith-based group called Abeni near her home in Orange County, to help other women escape from prostitution, as she had.
“You need the right testing environment.” It’s not clear where that would be, though; San Francisco voters rejected a decriminalization referendum by a wide margin in 2008.
The way decriminalization might play out probably lies in the unsexy details of implementation.
A few years later, however, another ex-boyfriend, with whom she was still close, started to take advantage of the underground nature of Muñoz’s work.
At first, she told me, he asked her to pay to get his car back after it was towed.In an email, No Vo said it continued to support the organization out of concern for the “marginalized girls and women who rely on Apne Aap for essential services.” The American support, in particular by Steinem, for Apne Aap’s model saddens and frustrates Indian feminists who promote the sex-worker collectives.“Gloria Steinem was one of our icons,” says Meena Seshu of Sangram. Why doesn’t she come and listen to the people here, with respect and dignity?She stopped taking on new ones, and then turned Abeni into one of the few groups in the country that helps people either leave sex work or continue doing it safely.Apne Aap is halfway through receiving a two-year 0,000 grant from the No Vo Foundation.”A few years ago, VAMP, the Sangli collective, made a short film, “Save Us From Saviors.” On camera, a leader in the collective named Shabana says: “I started doing sex work when I was 12 years old. I might also have been killed, so I ran away.” In the next shot, dressed in a bright yellow sari, she sits with her two children, and one of them kisses her on the head.“It is only recently that I’ve started thinking it’s good that I’m in sex work,” Shabana says.A couple of years later, Muñoz, who now has four children, started letting herself remember the period earlier in her life when escorting served her well, as a source of income and even stability.Struggling internally, she had a “crisis of conscience,” she says, and came to regret her assumptions about what was necessarily best for Abeni’s clients.In the United States and around the globe, many sex workers (the term activists prefer to “prostitute”) are trying to change how they are perceived and policed. She started escorting at 18, after she graduated from high school in Los Angeles County, picking up men at a dance club a couple of times a week and striking deals to have sex for 0 or so, at a hotel or their apartments.They are fighting the legal status quo, social mores and also mainstream feminism, which has typically focused on saving women from the sex trade rather than supporting sex workers who demand greater rights. She had a part-time job as a restaurant hostess, but she liked feeling desired and making money on the side to spend on clothes and entertainment.