Rachel Moran was only 15 years old and homeless in Dublin when she first turned to prostitution.
Prior to that, Moran had looked to state care to be removed from her home and her abusive mother. She was placed in a hostel for girls, but was soon kicked out after she was found to be hoarding medication.
With nowhere else to turn, Moran plunged into the world of prostitution, with a 21-year-old homeless boy as her pimp.
Speaking with The Irish Times, Moran recalls, “I was utterly exhausted – at 15 – so when the suggestion was made that [prostitution] was a way to put order or control on one’s life, I imagined myself as being like Madonna in the Like a Virgin video. I was thinking, I can be the bad girl I need to be.”
Moran continued prostituting until she was 22 years old. She recalls that while still underage, she presented great appeal for many men.
Now, having turned her life around and attaining a degree in journalism from Dublin City University, Moran has penned a book entitled ‘Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution’ which is set to hit bookstores this week.
Through her memoir, Moran hopes to dispel any notion of glamour that may be associated with prostitution.
“What I want this book to be is a wrecking ball that takes down that reputation of the ‘happy hooker’. There’s no glamour in prostitution. These are men getting off on hurting women,” Moran said to the Irish Times.
“People who think that prostitution is anything else are lying to themselves.”
“How glamorous is it, I wonder, to think of a huge heaving fat sweaty man shoving his penis into the most intimate part of your body? The truth is that prostitution is always an affront to human dignity. It is psychosexual bullying. Women in prostitution are not seen as equal humans,” Moran says.
Having experienced the horrors of prostitution first-hand, Moran is now pushing for Ireland to enact new legislation that would protect prostitutes and shame the men who use them.
In her reasoning, Moran points to the so-called ‘Nordic model’ which is used in Sweden, Norway and Iceland. Under the model, men who use prostitutes are criminalized, named and shamed. The women prostituted, however, are decriminalized and offered exit strategies.
Moran believes this model empowers women because when men become violent, they can turn to the police without fear of arrest.
“The rate of violence has gone through the floor, and the rate of women co-operating with police has soared,” Moran said of the Nordic model.
Moran has been important in the founding of SPACE International - Survivors of Prostitution Abuse Calling for Enlightenment. The campaign was launched this week in Ireland to help promote the Nordic model worldwide via the website spaceinternationl.ie
Moran struggled with putting her experiences into a book, but ultimately felt it was the right decision. “I’ve had an overwhelming response. It’s such a wonderful experience to be approached by people from all over the globe telling me that what I’m saying is resonating with them,” she says.
“The prostitution experience is so thoroughly disempowering; to come through it and have a book like this is a very empowering experience, which is the antithesis to what I experienced before.”
To learn more about Rachel Moran, head to her blog The Prostitution Experience.