Streets Shadows

I live in a country where the politicians could not be more corrupt. The clergy love them. They love them so much that they mention them in their prayers daily. If you ask the clergy why they mention corrupt politicians in their prayers, they will either ask who you think you are to doubt the politicians or else they will say that it would be even worse if they didn’t pray for them daily.

I live in a country where the clergy love everyone. Everyone, that is, except the Roma, Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, drugs addicts and sex workers. It’s strange how they never mention those people in their prayers. It’s probably because their desperate situation could not get any worse than it is already. Why waste a good prayer?

Today, I’m going to talk about sex workers. As I already said, the Church doesn’t love them. The clergy can love and publicly embrace a racist, but they could never have compassion for a sex worker. In fact, they hate them so much that they do everything in their power to make sure that prostitution will never be legalised. I am talking about a Church that is incapable of distributing hot soup to the poor, but which receives millions of Euros from the state budget to build more and more churches.

The clergy hate Stela for two reasons: she is both a sex worker and a heroin addict. Because religion would come to an end if we legalised prostitution, the Church has no qualms about watching Stela being abused by everyone, including officers of the law.

Girls like Stela get beaten up by police officers almost every night. Or else they get raped or robbed. And those are the “lucky” ones. They never know when it will next be their turn to be taken for a ride in a police car outside Bucharest, to be abandoned in the woods twenty or thirty kilometres away from the city in the middle of the night. In this country, because they “break the law” it means they have no rights as human beings.

Stela has to pay rent. She keeps all her belongings in a suitcase. It’s as if she’s always about to go on a trip. She is afraid of taking that trip, but she needs to be prepared. Her life is all about today. She doesn’t dare think of tomorrow. She barely eats, smokes heavily, and shoots up heroin two or three times a day. It’s a miracle she is still alive. But she is humorous and kind. It’s a pity the clergy cannot see past her profession.

Mihaela lives in a trailer. She has a baby girl, Denisa. She is a Romanian of Roma origin. Like many Romanians, often, a slice of bread is all she can provide her daughter. But she loves Denisa. She is also a heroin addict. She works with Stela. They keep each other company; they try to protect each other.

They both struggle to make ends meet, even though they work every day, regardless of the weather or their personal health.

In the eyes of the law they are criminals… In the eyes of the Church they are sinners… In the eyes of most of the Romanians they represent the lowest form of life… In my own eyes they are just fighting for survival. We have to respect that. Is that too much to ask?

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