Friday, August 8, 2008
Why are prostitutes Russian?
“How much does it cost?” asks the stranger next to me in the aeroplane.
“I don’t know. I love my girlfriend,” says Dmitri, the young Russian man on my other side. The stranger loses interest.
Since the conversation turned to prostitutes, I thought I’d kill my curiosity: “Why are the whole world full of Russian strippers and prostitutes? Moscow is supposed to be a city of wealthy people. Are there really also people who are that poor that they have no other option? Or is it just that they get a kick out of sexual power?”
“Those girls are not really Russian,” answers Dmitri, “Russian people have enough money. The girls who work as prostitutes and strippers come from some of the other former Soviet States. These countries really are poor and maybe that really is their only way of surviving or providing for their families.”
I get the sense that he is protecting his own and immediately think of my own replies when asked about the crime in South Africa.
“South African people are good people,” I always say, “they have big hearts regardless of their race or skin colour. The people who commit crimes are the ones who come in from other African countries.”
Perhaps Dmitri and I are both wrong, but it’s only human to want to believe the best of your home.
Later I meet a traveller from Uzbekistan and ask her about Dmitri’s reply.
She says: “Of course it happens here too. Russia is a big country and there are parts of it that is very poor. Just like Uzbekistan. A lot of people come to Uzbekistan and promise young girls good jobs. Then, as soon as they arrive in the other country their passports get taken away and they are forced to work as prostitutes. The people in Uzbekistan are very conservative and unless a girl comes from a bad family she will never choose to work as a prostitute even if she is poor.”
The truth, as always, is elusive.