"Habiba" waits for customers
"Habiba" 14, has been at a brothel for three years
“Sometimes I tell people that I came here willingly, but it doesn’t really feel like that. I had an arranged marriage when I was 11 years old, but after one month my husband started assaulting me – hitting me with his hands, and later beating me with a stick. He was drunk all the time and high on drugs, and I didn’t know what was happening. After six months, I couldn’t take it any more, so I ran away. But my mother had died, and my father said he couldn’t support me. A friend told me that there was a community of women who worked independently, and didn’t need men. When I didn’t make a fuss, she sold me here.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. Now I’m in debt to my madam and nobody outside the brothel will ever employ me when they know about my past.
One time, when I was new, the police came by and asked me how old I was – they said they’d had a report that I was too young to be working, and that they could help me leave. But I don’t have anywhere to go. So I said I was 18. Now when times are bad, I think to myself, ‘this is all your own fault’.”