'Men use brothels because they don’t get what they want at home': Newcastle sex worker Rita Brown defends prostitution
Working girl Rita Brown, aged 60, from Seabridge Lane, Newcastle, was recently released from prison after serving 17 weeks for running a brothel. She tells Jenny Amphlett why she is campaigning for brothels to be decriminalised...
ALL my life I have been insulted and told what to do, but now I have surprised myself by standing up for something. During my time in prison, I wrote to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in Downing Street every single week. I wasn't asking him to legalise it, I was asking him to introduce a registration system for sex workers instead.
I have asked him to listen to what I am saying rather than passing the buck.
I asked him how many women he is going to criminalise before the system is changed.
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The responses I have received say that they can't discuss individual cases. They are passing the buck in other words.
There are lots of working girls who put their kids through school from the money they earn.
They don't do it for drink or drugs, they do it to earn a living.
They don't want to rely on the state to keep them.
Councils plead they have got no money, so why not make some money from something they can never stop? If they can decriminalise carrying certain drugs around then why not do the same for this?
In a way I can't believe that I've stood up to be counted about this. I would like to sit down with someone from Stoke-on-Trent City Council to discuss some of the issues and my suggestions.
If working girls and brothels were registered then it would be safe, secure and they would know where the girls were. They would have more control of it.
At the moment the police are doing what they are doing and it is pushing more and more girls onto the streets.
I think they don't want to legalise it because it seems like condoning it.
The way I see it, what do married women do if they want something from their husband? A married woman puts on her best underwear and gives her husband what he wants. Working girls are giving men what they want too.
Ninety per cent of men go into these places because they are not getting what they want at home.
And what about men who can't get women because they have problems? Isn't is right that they should be able to use those places in safety rather than going somewhere and having their money stolen?
Just like anybody else, when I leave work I leave it there.
I go home and I get into bed to sleep. I do have a partner but he doesn't live with me. He lives 35 miles away, which suits me fine.
During my time in jail I met some prison service employees who talked to me about my views on the sex industry.
I am still in contact with them and have asked to meet up soon. I'm asking for things to change and move with the times.
I have been victimised, but now I am fighting for my rights and my income.
I was nearly 43 years old when I first became a working girl. I didn't have nice clothes to begin with, but each time I made a bit of money I would buy something. You have to look smart, clean and tidy to do what I do. I like to wear outfits too.
Before then I had worked in conventional jobs, but I had a mental breakdown and couldn't get a job afterwards.
I had no qualifications, nothing recent on my CV and no one was interested in employing me. I went for interviews but nothing ever came from them.
Then someone got me a job at a massage parlour in Stoke-on-Trent, it would be around 18 years ago now.
I worked there for 14 months and was very popular with the clients.
It ended badly because the parlour boss beat me up. Some of the other girls had thought they heard me saying something, but it wasn't true.
After that I rented a premises which I used myself. Other girls used it too and paid me a few pounds per week towards the bills.
Sometimes it could be very boring, just sitting there waiting.
Sometimes you could sit there for 60 hours and make nothing, or you could sit there for 60 hours and make £600.
I'm a normal person, and it takes a strong woman to do this kind of job. Not all of the men are very clean.
We're also working for a pittance in this city.
This job isn't always what people might imagine. Some men would like to have a cup of tea then a shower, or they might like the lady to have a shower. They would always have a massage.
I know it would have been illegal for me to shoplift, but why did I have to be made a criminal for trying to earn a living?
I wasn't causing any problems. Men were coming to me through choice. I wasn't dragging them into the place.
I spent 17 weeks in prison and I found it very hard.
Sometimes I didn't sleep for nights on end and I didn't eat some days.
I used to cry a lot and I would get told to shut up.
What had I done wrong to deserve that?
While I was inside somebody emptied my bank account and let themselves into my flat and stole my jewellery.
The bank say I have to go to the police about it and the police say I have to go to the bank about it.
I have now reported it to the financial ombudsman, but that money is still missing.
I was in jail so I certainly didn't empty it myself.
The person who decided to make me a criminal ruined my life. It was bad enough before, but it is totally ruined now.