Today, prostitution is a business without borders. The sex industry reportedly generates revenues equal to those of drug traffickers and arms smugglers. No wonder: prostitution has existed for at least 2,000 years, and some go as far as calling it the oldest profession. These days it is outlawed in most countries, including Russia. To be more precise, prostitution itself is considered a misdemeanour punishable by a petty fine. However, organising a prostitution ring or running a brothel is a criminal offence that carries a jail sentence.
Despite all this, Russia’s sex industry is booming. In the years immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union, prostitution became one of the most visible manifestations of political and economic uncertainty. Thus, over time, turning into a thriving, multifaceted sex industry. In larger cities, sex workers prefer to operate under the roofs of massage parlours, saunas and strip clubs. In smaller towns, you can still see working girls walking the streets or standing along highways. Digitalisation, however, has contributed to the prevalence of online services that allow clients to meet their potential “girlfriends” with just a click of a keypad. Thus, the internet may have made sexual services more readily available but not safer or less morally damaging to all parties involved.
It’s estimated up to four million women and men are involved in prostitution in today’s Russia. And although police carry out raids and special operations aimed at organised gangs, it’s just the tip of the iceberg called the “sex industry”. RT Documentary tries to find out more about various aspects of this ugly social phenomenon, letting the protagonists speak for themselves freely, no matter how unpopular their viewpoints might be.
00:00 “A prostitute is a sexually attractive girl who knows what she wants and wouldn’t buy into empty promises of love.”
1:15 Experts say there are between 1.5 and 4 million women involved in prostitution in Russia, but not even the Ministry of the Interior knows the exact number
2:12 Porn actress Lola Taylor’s story is a typical tale of an impoverished girl from a small town who turned to prostitution to earn her living
4:15 In Russia, prostitution is outlawed, so brothels often operate under the guise of massage parlours, “relaxation studios”, and adult cafés.
5:53 At strip clubs, patrons are often encouraged to get “to know the dancers better” at a special rate.
6:13 Less discerning customers hire hookers on street corners and red-light districts that can be found in every town.
8:46 Throughout history, prostitution hasn’t always been condemned by society
11:49 These days, the sex industry is a global business with revenues equal to drug trafficking and arms smuggling.
12:35 Although prostitution itself isn’t punishable in Russia, dragging a person into prostitution or keeping a brothel is.
16:10 A once famous model changed beyond recognition after becoming involved in porn and hitting rock bottom.
18:47 Lola Taylor also has a story of a date gone wrong: she was raped and seriously injured by a group of strangers.
21:46 Sex workers careers are short-lived, and they don’t have retirement plans to provide for old age or disability.
22:15 Lola tries to reinvent herself as an artist, but wiping the slate clean isn’t easy.
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