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Open me up for the world to see,

And still I’ll scream, “I’m free! I’m free! I’m free!”

Free from being treated like a burden,

Free from a life where food is uncertain,

Free from poverty which bleeds me dry,

Free from a situation which forced me to break down and cry.

Free from a husband who beat me sore,

Free from a house to run, oh what a chore,

Free from a belly bursting with his seed,

Free from producing more mouths to feed.

Open me up for the world to see,

And still I’ll scream, “I’m free! I’m free! I’m free!”

I did not bring this upon myself,

I had to escape the hell I was in or I would lose myself.

You ask me was this the only way?

I answer in assertion as this was a brighter day…

I was 14 when I first felt the pain,

Today, this job leaves me everything to gain.

When he touched me there, it felt so wrong,

And every time hence, I’d wonder for how long?

Open me up for the world to see,

And still I’ll scream, “I’m free! I’m free! I’m free!”

Never liked it at first, neither do I now,

But it’s a job I have which keeps me grounded and how.

I don’t answer to a boss who eats into my pay,

And yet, everybody looks at me as though I’m prey.

I want to stop but nobody would take me back,

I’m a whore now, just with a large money sack.

Who needs them now? I have my own.

They have seen me yearn and they’ve seen me grown.

Open me up for the world to see,

And still I’ll scream, “I’m free! I’m free! I’m free!”

They look at me funny, as though I’ve gone astray,

How do I explain to them that I’m happier this way?

I make the calls and get to decide,

Who lays on top and who gets to ride?

My rates are set and so are my hours,

How different am I from perks your corporates shower?

It’s a hard job and I labour for money,

Stop the ridicule and making this funny.

Open me up for the world to see,

And still I’ll scream, “I’m free! I’m free! I’m free!”

Every time a man touched me, I felt this itch,

As time wore on, I realised it would make me rich.

I remember those days when I wanted to scream,

Now, it feels like it was all just a bad dream.

Stop judging me because of what I do,

Just try and empathise and let me live as I do.

I have a deal when I sleep with no husbands or fathers,

Only men who are single and have certain disorders.

Open me up for the world to see,

And still I’ll scream, “I’m free! I’m free! I’m free!”

You think that you know me and yet you don’t see,

The troubles I’ve gone through and what makes me ‘ME’.

Imagine a girl of 14 set out on her own,

With nothing but a baby on her hip to call her own.

I chose this way out of my own pain and misery,

Yet, everyone is still trying to make me free.

What do you want to make me be?

A decent woman, a wife, a mother of three?

Open me up for the world to see,

And still I’ll scream, “I’m free! I’m free! I’m free!”

I don’t need your pity, I don’t need no alms,

I’m fine working this way, honestly with no qualms.

I work by my rules, isn’t that nice?

I pay for my own wheat, vegetables and rice.

No husband to steal my wages or bow down to,

I use a stool when I can’t reach those heights I want to.

My girl is almost 14 and I don’t want her to be,

Anything she doesn’t want to, take it from me.

Open me up for the world to see,

And still I’ll scream, “I’m free! I’m free! I’m free!”

Did you know I pay taxes? No labour is tax free.

There’s hard work that goes into what makes me ‘ME’.

The next time you see a sex worker on the street,

Just remember this simple sex worker’s plea…

We do what we do because it pays

Why not make it legitimate, all of these lays?

Why should I switch jobs and become what you want me to be?

I’m a sex worker and I swear, “I’m free! I’m free! I’m free!”

This piece of creative expression was something I did for a class I’m doing on Social Interventions in India. It hopes to capture the feelings of a sex worker and how they actually might like being employed in the same but are forced to take up other jobs as they feel what they do isn’t legitimate.

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