Prostitution, the oldest profession in the world. What happens in the heart and head of a woman who sells her body on the sidewalk? At a time when Africa is talking about emergence. This prostitute reveals her daily life in all its crudity, and her small arrangements with the unacceptable. A former prostitute. The one who has seen the hidden face of our society. The one who has met the vice and the loneliness of the Mauritian men. She saw what we do not see. Rubina (fictitious name), worked for a few months in a ‘massage parlor’.
“There are some who do it for pleasure, but most women do it because they are in need, because they are desperate. I too found myself in a dead-end situation.
” When she was only 22, she found herself alone and without money. Her husband abandons her, taking with him their child. Loneliness and lack of money weigh on her.
“I suddenly felt alone in the world. My husband was gone, my mother did not support me, I did not know how to support myself and I had to raise a large sum of money in a short time. That’s when a friend told me about massage parlors. When one is weak and desperate, one does not reflect. One lets oneself be influenced, one grips eagerly with the first solution that is offered to us. At that time, Rubina says she has nothing to lose, that everything is already lost. Driven by despair, motivated by the attractiveness of money, she decided to try. Rubina makes her incursion into the trade of the flesh.
Every day, the young woman gets up and prepares to go and work with her heart beating. She does not know what to expect. To which customer will she deal with, What if he hurts her? After all they are the clients, on the other hand, there is the police. Because the work in illegal and dangerous.
“Any time the police could land at the palor and surprise us with a customer. Just thinking of it, I began to tremble. But she takes her courage in both hands. She dresses, she does her makeup. With the trade she does, she has an obligation to be beautiful. Be always beautiful, always seductive even if one is bruised inside. Her mother is there, she looks at her daughter, she knows that Rubina is a prostitute in a massage parlor.
She says nothing. ” My mother ? She never supported me. If I had had her support, I would not have fallen into prostitution. On the contrary, she told me that now I could not get away with it, that I would always be a prostitute. Again Rubina says she has nothing to lose. She crosses the threshold of her place of work. She and her colleagues work from 10 to 17 hours. They are preparing, they are waiting. As soon as a customer enters, the heart beats again.
Some men seem affordable, others seem threatening. But they do not have a say, it is the client who chooses. They stand in front of him. It’s like a beauty contest but they do not always feel beautiful. Especially when the man perversely turns his eyes on their bodies; Observing, evaluating. It’s a bit like an auction sale or slave trade market.
“There are men who look really shady. Just looking at you, they scare you. Sometimes I hid or saved myself and sometimes even refused. “This is an atypical situation; Rubina knows that if she does not have a client, she does not have any money. But there are times when she prays for a client not to choose her.
Yet this job she chose gives her no freedom of feelings. When she is ‘selected’, she follows her client in a room.
Here she finds herself locked up with a stranger. He talks to her, asks her how she calls herself, asks questions about her age, her hobbies. She lies. She gives him his massage. Then comes the ‘additional’ requests, the ‘plus’, the happy ending.
It goes from a simple caress to sexual intercourse. Again, pretend. Because when it is done by obligation, it is no longer a part of pleasure. To pretend to enjoy; “If we openly display our indifference or frustration, the client can be offended.” The difference between a free woman and a prostitute is that a free woman chooses her partners, a prostitute do not. Some clients are correct, others are vicious or simply alone.
At the massage parlor, Rubina meets several men. “There are perverts. Who come only for sex. They are demanding, hurried and sometimes brutal. There are those who insult you. They say rude things. They, they find it exciting, but I do not. Sometimes i go away. I tell the customer that I do not want his money. That I am desperate, but not at this point. But they are also those who feel abandoned by their women or who are simply stressed at work.
Sometimes they just need to talk to someone. Some lonely and anxious men go to see a therapist, others prefer to confide in a prostitute. “This is my favorite type of customer! (Laughs) He comes, he pays you already, then he sits down, he does not even touch you and he tells you his problems.
It is true that not all men are perverse. Then there are also those who come but are afraid. Especially if it’s their first time … “Because there is everything. Because the prostitute sees everything; She sees the curtain of appearances fall. Thus, the scruffy alcoholic can prove to be nice but disturbed while the costumed and tied businessman can hide a pervert to weird fantasies. Rubina sees in front of her men of all communities and social classes.
At the salon, the masks fall. But once the man is satisfied and leaves the place, he wears back his mask. It happens for Rubina to meet her clients on the streets: “That’s what I fear most. And it has already happened. I met a client, he was perhaps accompanied by his family. He recognized me but did not speak to me. Better for me. And then why would he have spoken to me, he would be too ashamed. Because obviously a man walking in the street with his wife and children will not talk to the woman with whom he slept the day before. He is afraid of the gaze and criticism of others. Yet, we know very well. People point the finger at the prostitute and not the clients. It is often misunderstood. She is seen as a temptress, like that which leads men towards vice. We forget (voluntary forgetting?) That the customer goes of his own free will.
It becomes a vicious circle. Because she has already been labeled a prostitute and a soiled woman, the woman says that she has no chance of getting out. Fortunately, Rubina has managed to change her life before it became too late for her.
“At the end of four months I could not take it anymore. I wondered what I was doing in my life. Some people started talking. Some relatives came to see me. Unlike my mother, they encouraged me to stop. I prayed. I asked the Good Lord the courage to get out of it. She began to prostitute herself by saying that she had nothing to lose. Eventually she realizes she has a lot to lose; Her dignity, autonomy over her body, her peace of mind. “It’s a job like any other. And there are women who do it without guilt. Besides, I envy their courage. But I realized that this job was not for me, that my life and my body belonged to me. And I wanted to prove to my mother that I could stop. ”
She stops. They come to see her, asking her to come back and she refuses. This work seems to have left invisible traces on her body and mind; She tries to erase them. It starts all over again. Fortunately, she gets to find a job.
Her husband returns. The world of prostitution is behind her. “It is as if I have escaped from a prison! (Laughs) Now I do not even want to pass by this massage parlor. My husband and son have returned. I also stopped because of my son. He is four years old. I do not want him to be ashamed of his mother one day. I want to give him a decent and happy life.
” Reading this article, there are those who will judge, criticize. Besides, they can do it very well, it’s their right. However, when they criticize, they should also realize that women like Rubina exist because such palors operate. Prostitutes exist because they are men who go to them. Life is made of dualities; Society too. In Mauritius, as in the world, there is the good and the bad. Port-Louis is home to the Garden of the Company as well as the Immaculate Church. And to build a healthy society, we must start by seeing things as they are.