If the men whose careers our work sustained abused or exploited us, we kept quiet, to spare their reputations, to spare our reputations, to avoid creating “drama,” to avoid making “the movement” more vulnerable than it already was. And so, we disappeared, and watched as new women emerged in our place, eyes alight and ready to pick up where we had left off, and we whispered to one-another how we were worried for them, but still, we kept silent. Here is the paradox: If you speak up, everyone else will exile you. If you keep quiet, you have no choice but to exile yourself.
This essay engages with Transformative Justice literatures, displaying what they can offer away from coercion and carceral approaches. Within this framework, I look at a case study from Egypt that took place at the end of 2017, where a presidential candidate was accused of harassment and a prominent human right lawyer of rape. With this reading, I am touching upon the feminist tensions that manifested and looking into transformative justice narratives that would be of benefit to conceptualize and approach these tensions differently.
The abolitionist view on sex work in Lebanon paints it as solely the outcome of male buyer’s desire to purchase sex. This portrayal obfuscates serious and important contingencies that often precipitate sex work that is precarious: increased commodification of social relations and the failure of state and kin entities to provide for all its members in a just manner. Seeing sex work as a labour problem allows for a greater contextualisation, which once explored, points to the need to strengthen sex worker’s labour conditions rather than constraining them by punishing buyers.