The State’s Monopoly on Voice

When it comes to looking for data on sex work in Egypt, unfortunately one of the only sources for data that include the direct voice of alleged sex workers are police cases. Police cases against sex workers theoretically include a transcript of a number of questions asked to the alleged sex worker and their answers. There we could find direct information about the sex worker, their basic background information and a narration of how they were arrested.

Although these cases are useful to analyze, they must be taken with a grain of salt, this is mainly due to the fact that the ability of the arrested individual, who has been arrested for allegedly participating in sex work, to voice their actual experience as a sex worker is non-existent. These arrested individuals’ only aim is to be cleared of their guilt and not found guilty. Even then, we are unsure if these legal cases that we find are an accurate portrayal of the case itself, as we take into account the power dynamic between a police officer and the woman being arrested.

This leads to a false narrative being perpetuated around the interactions between the state and sex workers or alleged sex workers. With the state’s monopoly over voice, especially when it comes to these legal cases, they have the ability to dominate the almost only form of storytelling for these individuals.