Is it Better To Work in a Brothel or as an Independent?

When I was a kid, all I knew about sex work was that brothels existed. Now let me clarify, that wasn’t because my family spoke about brothels over the dinner table, but they were the places that the press said guys went to for sex. I knew nothing about independent escorts, I didn’t even know they existed.

room in a brothel

However, as I came to work for Escort Scotland, I saw that things were different. Whilst many sex workers will want to work in the brothel scene, others will work on their own. It is also fair to say that brothels don’t get a good press.

Let’s look at the business model. Brothels are a place where a number of girls work. Men walk in randomly during opening hours. They are met at a desk by a lady who will take their money. They then get to choose between the girls and go to a room. The girl will share the money received with the brothel owner.

The ‘Problems’ and ‘Benefits’ of Brothels

It probably isn’t surprising that they get a bad press. The girls get no say over who they meet and get only a percentage of the booking fee. They will often meet customers late at night also which increases the chances of these guys being drunk. This is something that many independent escorts will choose not to do. It takes a lot of the control away from sex workers and puts the decision-making process into the hands of a third party. In many people’s minds, that puts the control of her body into someone else’s gift, which is unacceptable. True the girls could say “no, I am not seeing him” but I suspect that would go down badly with he brothel owner and would see them being asked to leave pretty fast.

Still, it has to be said, brothels can be beneficial for sex workers. They get regular clients as people are just walking in off the street. The brothel will likely have security guards working there so to make sure that clients don’t get violent which is always a risk in this industry. The fact that there are other girls working there also means that anyone looking to try funny business will likely think twice about it.

This security issue is a real problem for independent escorts who work together. This is one of the reasons we offer so much advice on the subject. If you are a female on your own, what is stopping a bad client behaving in a violent manner? They certainly have no-one there to stop them, and the chances of getting a conviction will obviously go down if you have no other witnesses. Most criminals of this manner aren’t anti-sex workers. They merely go after sex workers because they are an easy target, and one that sections of society may not have bundles of sympathy for.

A Middle Option Made Difficult

A good middle way that many would like to choose is to work as independents but in the company of other escorts. They get the full money for a booking and can choose who they see, but will also get the security of being in an establishment with other people. That will help keep them safe.

Unfortunately, under the current Scottish law, sex workers working together are likely to be seen as operating a brothel. As many of you will know, prostitution is legal, but brothels are not. This forces many women to work on their own, against their wishes.

What is The Best Option?

So, what is the best option for sex workers? It is a really tough one and will depend a lot on the individual motivations of the girls themselves. If the ease of not having to deal with accommodation and get bookings outweighs control over who you see and getting the whole fee, then a brothel may be OK. If that is reversed, then the independent model is better. For others, they would like to take the best bits of both. I have never taken a view on what the best route should be. Instead we need a society where every option is available, instead of the industry being pushed underground.

What is clear is that sex workers should be allowed to do what they like, without the interference of government. Safety is key, no matter what route they go down. Let’s give them the freedom and support they so deserve.

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Martin Ward

Martin Ward is a well respected editor and writer with over five years experience in the adult industry. After stints in the Escort Advertising call centre and on the escort forum, he moved into the site editor position around three years ago.

Since then, he has specialised in articles on the battle for equal rights for sex workers, sexual health, as well as bringing the readers fun news from around the world. He also has a major interest in LGBT rights, and is an active campaigner in this field.

When he isn't fighting the good fight, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, and young daughter. He also enjoys reading and taking long walks.
Martin Ward
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