I have been working in brothels since 2008. For a long time we were in the same premises with me and two other women working as sex workers. We are all mothers and working for ourselves. Most of us are sending money back home to our families in other countries. We knew working together was against the law but we decided it was better to be safe than sorry. People around knew we were here and were fine about it, we didn’t bother anyone.
Then last year police came bursting into our flat. I was arrested for brothel-keeping because I paid the rent. I wasn’t managing the other women, we were all working for ourselves. I am so frightened. If I am found guilty I could go to prison and be separated from my child, who was born in the UK.
Some of the other girls now rent holiday flats for a couple of weeks at a time to work from. I join them sometimes for a day or two because I really need the money but I am so scared to be caught by the police again. We have to work like this because if we stay too long in one place there is more chance the police will come and close us down. I saw they were calling this pop-ups. The police made us work this way. It is not safe. We can’t afford to do any of the things we did before when we were in one place to be safer. Like, no-one is going to pay for CCTV or extra locks. We don’t have time to get regular clients. If we did get attacked I don’t know if we would report it because the police would just close us down again.
We want to work together, rent a flat together and not be frightened that the police will break in at any time. We want decriminalisation. The laws should be got rid of so we can work together. We don’t want to be running from the police all the time.