Punched in the face, kicked down stairs, bitten, starved and beaten - women involved in prostitution in Ireland are increasingly at risk of violence. Does this rise in sexual aggression identify a link between degradation of women and the universal availability of hard pornography?

THE NEWS that demand for prostitute services has been unaffected by the recession was hardly surprising. But like many conscience-free corporations, that hasn’t stopped the industry demanding more productivity from its workers, so the fact that women in prostitution are being forced to take bigger risks is hardly surprising either.

The release last week of the annual report from Ruhama, the charity for women affected by prostitution, triggered a mild flurry of curiosity about the lives of one of the most contentious groups in society.

Last year, these women “reported horrific levels of sexual, physical and emotional abuse”, said the charity’s chief executive, Sarah Benson. They were punched in the face, in the stomach, were kicked down stairs, beaten for refusing to have sex with men, were locked in, were refused food, were burned and bitten.

Being a prostitute by choice!

“Women were told by buyers that they were ‘ugly’, ‘not very good’, that they ‘should at least try to look like you’re enjoying it’ while their bodies were used in whatever way the buyer wished,” said Benson. Which means “turning yourself into a public toilet”, in the words of one former prostitute this week.

The notion of a mutually pleasurable, damage-free transaction – as promoted by the industry and supporters of legalisation – sits wildly at odds with the reality of these engagements. Were it not for the wreckage they leave behind, the self-delusion of the average sex buyer would be laughable.

On an unfiltered “escorts” website, where Irish males using hard-man pseudonyms such as “Mountdick” and “BigLad” post “reviews” of the human merchandise, the inherent contradictions are mind-boggling. “She’s putty in my hands”, exults “Scankman”.

Another writes: “from the second i met her she was all over me kissing me passionatly”.

A man who had “booked a couple of Nasty Bitches”, turned up to find two normal looking women and was about to leave, until “they assured me that I was in the right place, and they both wanted me to use them like nasty pieces of filth”.

A career every father wants for his daughter surely?

At one level, these men – some of whom pay for sex up to 10 times a month, according to their own posts – must delude themselves that the women find them irresistible. At another, they must also believe that the same women are sub-human: “Met this thing a number of months ago. She went by a different name then . . . She hates her clients, hates the job, hates the world. Stay well away from it.”

Another reviewer, whose human receptacle failed to perform as programmed, writes: “The window did not open, and the room was very warm, and Amanda got an attitude about how much I was sweating. I wanted to drive my c*** down her throat until she gagged on it, but she insisted on doing it her way . . . Certainly not the experience I had been anticipating, as I have met with some very charming and accommodating Czech and Slovakian ladies who have gagged and slurped on my c*** . . . To be 100% honest, and fair to other punters, they list a few things on their profile that they don’t actually do [he lists them diligently] like in the porno movies.”

Mr Loneranger complained that on his visit to “Sweet Rebeka”, no shower was offered and that “oral was coverred”.

Unusually, Rebeka replied on the website: “if iwill ask you to go in the shower, you will said that maybe i think you are not clean,and I did’t want to offend you, if you really want to make a shower you could ask. but now I realised i should ask you to go to the shower, that was the reason for coverred oral, my healt is more important than a bad review.”

In a single paragraph, Rebeka distils the daily life of a woman in prostitution: her fear of offending the client, however repulsive, malodorous or degrading; the continuous risk to her own health; and – less obviously – a constant concern about her pimp’s reaction to poor “reviews” and consequent need to defend herself. It is believed that posts from both sides are often placed and/or closely scrutinised by those who control the women and their takings.

IN THIS FANTASY WORLD of mass denial and self-delusion – where many buyers’ complaints are about misleading photographs, poor command of English, refusal to engage in French kissing (despite the array of other deeply degrading services on offer) or in acts without a condom – a more typical response from a poorly reviewed woman is one that reads: “tanks for your councils. I hope one day you give me another chance.”