By MAMAMIA TEAM
Sex worker Rachel Wotton counts a number of men with disability among her clients.
Her organisation claims that access to the sex industry is a human rights issue for people with disabilities. They aim to assist “people with disability and sex workers to connect with each other, focusing on access, discrimination, human rights and legal issues and the attitudinal barriers that these two marginalised communities can face”
Wotton has also said she aims to eventually create the world’s first not-for-profit brothel.
Today, Mamamia sits down with Wotton to ask about her interaction with clients’ parents, her work with older men, and why she found Helen Hunt’s portrayal of a sex surrogate in The Sessions ‘really uncomfortable to watch’.
Q: You’ve said elsewhere that the role of a sex worker, in relation to some clients with disability, is about more than the act of sex itself. Tell me a bit about this role.
A: People so often have this myopic view of what sex workers do, and who we are and what we look like, hence one of the reasons why Scarlet Road was created- to really show the diverse nature of the sex industry, and the diverse nature of those who participate in the sex industry and our client base.
The definition of disability is a very wide spectrum- so, someone with depression who hasn’t been touched for four years- [there’s an element of] ‘skin hunger’ there. They’re not [always] utilising a wheelchair, and they don’t have a cast on their leg or anything like that; we’re talking about people with a whole range of disabilities. [Also,] the clients are getting older…
Q: So the age of your clients is something you’ve had to accommodate?
A: I’ve had some lovely older gentlemen whose lifelong partners have died, and they’re lonely. They haven’t been touched for two or three years since she passed away, and they’re just easing themselves back in, so they come to see me just for a sexual massage- so there’s no penetrative sex. There’s a lot of sexual massage.
…My friend, she’s in her 60s, and she talks about [how] her client’s daughter organised for her to go and see her father, and her father’s suffering from dementia… Someone who’s 90 doesn’t want a 20-year-old. They want someone older with life experience and things that they can talk about.
Q: So what sort of challenges do you face in seeing clients with disability?
A: Third-party assistance, I guess, is the biggest difference that sex workers to have to get used to [in working with clients with disability].
When there’s a carer, or a support worker, or a parent, or a brother or sister who’s assisting someone to see a sex worker- that’s a different part of my professional life as a sex worker that is different. Generally when you’re a sex workers you speak directly to the client and its all very quiet and discreet.
Q: How common is it for family members to arrange visits between sex workers and people with disability?