Prostitute's sermon to the archbishop

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Twelve people told the conference about their experience of poverty. Here are two of them.

t "Lisa", a prostitute.

Lisa went on the streets at the age of 10 after being abused within her family. "Two-thirds of prostitutes have been abused as children. Prostitution is not about sexuality or fulfilling sexual fantasies - it is about abuse. It is about poverty. It is not about choice. It is awful, dangerous, and life-threatening. Seventy three per cent of prostitutes have been raped repeatedly and beaten.

"Take a good look at me. Next time you see a prostitute at work, you do not see a whore, you see a survivor. You see a woman trying to feed herself and her children.

"You think: 'It couldn't be my daughter, she's at university.' But poverty and prostitution among students are at an all-time high. You think, it couldn't be my mother; 89 per cent of prostitutes over 16 are mothers."

t David Torrance, Glasgow, 45.

Raised in the Gorbals, he was left with three young children by his wife, a diagnosed schizophrenic. He raised them in poverty, in an isolated life. "That led me to alcohol, and then I ended up in prison."

He served four years and emerged to be evicted from his home for non- payment of arrears. He was rescued by the Simon Community which found him a place to live. This emergency accommodation cost the taxpayer pounds 300 a week - the sum of his original rent arrears.

He could not go on to further education because a grant would render him ineligible for his housing. "People end up paying for being poor," he said.

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