Sunday Times – Book review – Invisible: Britain’s Migrant Sex Workers by Hsiao-Hung Pai

Invisible: Britain’s Migrant Sex Workers by Hsiao-Hung Pai

An undercover journalist reveals the working lives of the thousands of migrant women flocking to Britain’s sex industry

Street life: sex workers in BristolStreet life: sex workers in Bristol (SWNS)

When the American journalist Gloria Steinem put on a bunny outfit and went undercover at the Playboy Club in New York in 1963, she exposed the reality of working women’s lives in a trailblazing essay, I Was a Playboy Bunny. By echoing the battles that all 1960s women faced, her notes on the pros and cons of bunny work made her a feminist hero. With humour, she managed to humanise and familiarise sex workers and make them “one of us”.

In Invisible, an examination of migrant workers in the modern British sex industry, the Taiwanese-born journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai has also gone undercover. ­Posing as an undocumented Chinese immigrant, rather than putting on a bunny uniform, Pai took maid’s jobs in brothels in Burnley, Lancashire, and in Stratford and Finchley in London, in an attempt to illuminate the murky world of the women — almost exclusively from Asia and eastern Europe — gravitating to Britain’s sex trade. But, while Steinem’s investigation left her arguing that “All Women Are Bunnies”, Pai’s book has a rather different effect.

Read the full article here: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/culture/books/non_fiction/article1243121.ece

 

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