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'I became a sex worker to afford my writing career'

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Melissa Gira Grant is a journalist, but before that she was one of the sex industry's first 'webcam models.'

She tells of how she used her income from sex work to fund a career as a writer in an interview with The Observer.

"I wouldn't say I got into sex work because I wanted to write about it," the 36-year-old American explains. "I got into sex work because I wanted to afford to be a writer. It's an incredibly underpaid profession and ever more precarious."

"And it's only been in the last four years that I've focused on journalism as my livelihood and haven't done sex work," she continues. "It was being part of sex-worker movement communities that gave me access to all these brilliant people and allowed me to be part of a world that I thought was so under-represented. I don't think anyone goes into activism without personal experience."

Gira Grant has published a new book, Playing The Whore, which she describes as a political account of her experiences, rather than a "peepshow" memoir.

In an extract printed by the newspaper she writes: "Sex workers should not be expected to defend the existence of sex work in order to have the right to do it free from harm ... These complaints are common to all workers and shouldn't be exceptional when they are made about sex work. As labour journalist Sarah Jaffe said of the struggles at her former job as a waitress, "No one ever wanted to save me from the restaurant industry."

Responding to the proposed introduction of laws criminalising clients and pimps rather sex workers in the UK, she said that similar models in Norway reportedly left sex workers "facing increased violence on the streets."

"Sex workers aren't supporting these proposals that are currently in front of the UK, or those in front of the European Parliament - in fact they stand quite opposed to these measures," she added.

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