Naël, bénévole sur le Lotus Bus à Paris


Volunteer worker on the Lotus Bus in Paris, Naël speaks fluent Chinese. For the past six years, he has been reaching out to sex workers in Paris’ Belleville district.



“It started because I wanted to get involved and better understand the district where I live. There are so many myths about Chinese women who are sex workers. By reaching out to them I’ve come to understand what brings them to do what they do. The Lotus Bus gives them a voice which they don’t usually have, and there’s no moral judgement about prostitution.”



I meet with the women, I do my best to break the ice and win their trust. You have to get them to open up to find out what they need. I try to give them information on sexually transmitted diseases and tell them about their rights. Sometimes I accompany them to the hospital or the police station.



Firstly, admiration for these women. They’re fighters. And then outrage about the degree of violence and humiliation they’re subjected to. But the sheer complexity of the social relationships really fascinates me too. There are the clients who give money to help pay for the funeral of a murdered woman, the police officers who are truly commendable in their defence of these women, and then the others who abuse their power. And then there are the ones who become loyal companions. Any preconceptions you might have are totally shattered.

You have to get them to open up to find out what they need.