MENA; Sex work; HIV/AIDS

Shereen El-Feki*

As my Egyptian grandmother used to say: “I am not a prostitute, and my husband isn’t giving me money, so where am I supposed to find the cash?”

With only a quarter of women across the Arab world, on average, in the workforce,[1] this question is a lived reality for millions today.

For the half-dozen or so women sitting with me in a café in downtown Casablanca, the answer to that question was clear. Starting at 50-plus dirhams (6 USD) and up per client—and with the prospect of servicing several clients a day—prostitution provides much-needed income to women who are having a hard time to make ends meet by other means.

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