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?