The underground sex trade is closer to our everyday world than we may think.
A brothel may be hidden inside that shabby building a few blocks away from home; the kitchen maid of our favourite Chinese restaurant may have gone into sex work to earn the money she desperately needs; a foreign student at the university we attend may do part-time sex work to support his or her studies.
These and other realities are investigated by journalist and writer Hsiao-Hung Pai in her new book “Invisible: Britain’s Migrant Sex Workers”, to be published in the United States this November.
Working undercover on exhausting shifts as a housekeeper in several brothels all over the U.K., Pai came in contact with the whole range of human stories that compose the sex trade: prostitutes, pimps, housekeepers and clients.
She collected their stories and created a book that highlights the complexity of this phenomenon, with all its political, social and human factors that sex workers themselves are not always aware of.
“They are not necessarily aware of all the factors, but … they are aware of the choices they have made in difficult circumstances and the … exploitation they are confronted with as a result of institutional failures,” Hsiao-Hung Pai told IPS, “They are also aware of their collective powerlessness.”