Sex Workers in the Neighborhood


I have a friend who lives on the stroll. No, really! There are sex workers operating their small businesses right along the alley behind her house. Sometimes she hears them, sometimes she sees them, and sometimes her children notice them, too.

When Jesus was asked about which part of the Law is most important, he answers, “Love God, love your neighbor.” My friend and I have had lots of conversations about being a neighbor to the individuals who are trading sex. What would that look like? How would it play out?

I’ve come up with some suggestions, most of which are pretty impossible, but I like to think of impossibilities.

  • Hand out free condoms to the women. Or at least provide them at a neighborhood spot.
  • Have a water jug out in the alley at night. Plenty of people in my neighborhood set out a water jug for the runners passing their house. Why not for the sex workers?
  • Hand out the phone numbers that might help the sex workers: a local organization who provides outreach (free condoms, crises counseling, shelter, domestic violence protection, food, safer drug use supplies) or national projects that offer support, like the HIPS hotline (1-800-676-HIPS) where trained volunteers can help them think about resources, find support, and just listen. You could even have an “information” box like they do when a home is for sale.
  • Place a container for medical waste on your fence. I know, I know, a “sharps container” isn’t great in your garden, but wouldn’t it be great if people used it for condoms and needles that have been used?
  • What about learning their names? That means, of course, that you’d have to have a conversation with the sex workers. What would that be like? “Hi! My name is Lia and I live just down the street there. What’s your name?”
  • Even if you don’t learn their names, just making an overture of friendship can be nice. How about baked goods? Or some tomatoes from your garden? If they lived in the house next door, that’s how  you would be “neighborly.”

What ideas do you have? How could you be a neighbor to sex workers in your neighborhood?

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About Lia Scholl
  • Shelley Brinson

    I lived on a block for a couple of years that was a hot spot for sex workers. It was an interesting thing to experience, because I do mean my block – not a mile away but right outside my door. I was uneasy at first because everything in my head was a stereotypical generalization. Would they hurt me? Would they draw a ‘bad element’ onto the block? Could I get a disease by breathing the same air . . .? I loved my apartment, my landlord, my neighbors and proximity to my ‘life’, so I stayed and over time an interesting thing happened. I realized that, for all our differences, we were a lot the same. They dressed for work and showed up on time. They stayed their shift and had a marketing plan. And more than that, the subjective pieces were most interesting of all. They were friendly to me. They were conversational! One evening I complimented a woman on how nice she looked, because despite the typical image, she was attractive and well put together. I mention this because of her reaction – she was genuinely appreciative of my words. In all we lived a peaceful co-existence for 2 and a quarter years. I never had any problem, the neighborhood didn’t change. The only issue I remember was when one particular neighbor found out where a sex worker worked part time during the day and told her employer. ‘Great’ , I said, when she proudly told me. Now prostitution is her ONLY source of income. Well done!!” She got my sarcasm, but never understood it. There were no fights on the street, or excessive noise. It was just a circumstance. I’m not here to say that sex work is good or is not good. I am just very thankful to have been put in a place where I could say that they are pretty much just like me, just trying to get by.

    • Lia Scholl

      I love this story. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Dr. John

    I’d hire one for their services and get to know them better so I could truly appreciate them and support them.

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