Blog header image of a homeless person lying on the street with text on which says "Why Sex Work?: Poverty In Prostitution"

Why Sex Work? – Poverty in Prostitution

The clients we meet are frequently affected by the grips of poverty. From watching this TED talk by Rutger Breman, we were inspired to write something to aid understanding on why individuals might end up in sex work, and why even with support it can be a long process to exit sexual exploitation.

Starting off with this stimulating quote:

“Poverty is a personality defect” – Margaret Thatcher (UK Prime Minister 1979-1990

Historian Rutger Breman talks provocatively about the effects of poverty.

He mentions a study on the Burden of Poverty, which looked into IQ scores; the results of which show a loss of 14 IQ points being lost due to living in poverty. He also talks about the affects of alcoholism having a similar effect on IQ to poverty. Many of the individuals we work with at Rahab are impacted both by living in poverty and alcoholism.

Professor Eldar Shafir, a behavioural scientist, theorises that people behave differently when they perceive something to be scarce. Rutger Breman sums this up with the words: “Scarcity Mentality”. This mentality is familiar to us all, whether we’ve felt short of time, money, food, or something else! The theory is that when something is scarce we lose our long-term perspective, so we get slower, we start making mistakes, and eventually we freeze.

“They’re not making dumb decisions because they are dumb, but because they’re living in a context in which anyone would make dumb decisions.” – Rutger Breman

The TED talk goes on to talk in more depth about Breman’s thoughts, ideas, and dreams to fix society and eradicate the scarcity mentality. And, no matter your political leaning, I think we’d all love it if the ‘gaps’ in society that weren’t there.

“Poverty is hugely expensive… in terms of higher health care spending, higher dropout rates and more crime.” – Rutger Breman

Here at Rahab, our vision is to Restore All Hope And Belief. This includes tackling the cycles of poverty, homelessness, abuse, and addiction that our clients can be trapped in. The clients we support are not dumb; they don’t have personality defects. Our clients are bubbly, chatty, and friendly people who had fewer choices. If you want to support our vision of restoration, find out more about how to volunteer, financially support us, and pray click here.

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