Latoya Grindley, Staff Reporter
Although legalised in some countries, prostitution still remains a profession that is frowned upon by many. Princess, a prostitute who shares her story with Flair regards the negative views attached to her chosen career as unnecessary and harsh.
"What has a sex worker done wrong? We don't go into people's houses and cause problems. Why are they making it out to be that bad, as if we are molesting and harassing people. It is the clients who come to where we are."
According to her, operating as a sex worker is just like any other form of employment.
"It is just like another job. The only difference with this is that many (of us) work mostly in the nights. It is our form of employment, we are working people."
In fact, she stressed that sex work is not necessarily limited to those working on the streets and inside of clubs and parlours.
Noting that there is hypocrisy as it relates to who is considered a sex worker, she said there are different categories. And that it would include many 'undercover' ones who are able to afford a certain lifestyle because of sex.
"Sex work is really anything in exchange for sex. There are many women who are involved with men just because they are getting money or something else. Some of these women are even walking around in offices. You just don't see them on the streets."
Regarding it as a service-oriented field, Princess is convinced that sex workers have their place in society.
"We are providing a service to these clients. Sometimes it even goes beyond sex - we are masseuses and we are also counsellors. Sometimes a man will pay his money and it doesn't even get to sex, instead they just talk about their problems. You have some men who can't talk to their wives because they don't listen. When they come, we listen and it is like a therapy session."
Confidentiality, which is valued in this profession, she claimed, has at times led to a bond between sex workers and their clients, resulting in relationships. But this she said, she remained quite wary of.
"A lot of men will pretty much go to the club to use women. And you find that these relationships do not necessarily last. A lot of these girls have low self-esteem, and when one relationship doesn't work, she just keeps going around looking to belong. Statistics will even show that many of these women have been abused before."
Furthermore, she said, "I don't think Jamaican men can handle a real relationship with a woman in this kind of profession. They can't deal with their friends laughing at them."
Princess finds love
With her eyes set steadfast on making her life, and by extension her children's lives, comfortable, the last thing on Princess' mind was to find love.
But perhaps love was unexpectedly keen on finding her.
"He used to come by the club I worked at and we became friends. He lived in the area where I worked," she said of her boyfriend, who is also the father of her newborn son.
She pointed out that he was never a client and that their friendship surprisingly blossomed into something fruitful.
This served as one of the reasons she decided to say goodbye to her field.
"I met someone very nice and I became involved in a very stable relationship. I felt settled, and so I did not want to do that anymore. And then I got pregnant which also influenced my decision."
Princess always had thoughts of leaving that career at some point, but her decision was made sooner than she thought. She says she is comfortable now.
"I did not go into the field to stay. I had the ambition to know that I wanted to go back to school and to leave it at some point. I went to Duff's Business College where I did certificate courses in front office, accounting and business management. I also did a nails course. And I have a very supportive man now who knows what I am about, and I am okay."
Now living her childhood dream of mentoring, she is employed as a master peer counsellor and actively represents sex workers.
This, she adds, is in an effort to allow sex workers to get their voices heard and to at least get one step closer to having the profession decriminalised. This she does as an active member of the Sex Workers Association of Jamaica.
"We are fighting to get rights for sex workers. To fight for things like better working conditions. It is still in its early stage, but we are trying."
At 38 years old, Princess is currently enjoying maternity leave, tending to her baby boy and her daughters. She is also enjoying the support and companionship she gets from her boyfriend.
As for her older daughters, who are aware of their mother's past, Princess said if any of them decided to do what she did, it would never be encouraged by her.
"I would not want that. I have experience of what it is like doing that kind of work and I would never want any of my children involved in anything close to that."