20 Euros for Prostitution

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20 Euros for Prostitution

 

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So you guys know that feeling, the nostalgia, the sudden blues you have when your holiday comes to an end. It was my final day in Chatillon, a beautiful town on the outskirts of Paris.

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I was preparing for my flight back to London and so I booked a cab online from my accommodation to Chatillon station in order to get the train to Charles De Gaulle airport.

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Sad, and already annoyed that I was too late to pick a window seat, I hear the driver beeping his horn, alerting that he has arrived.

 

I don’t know if you do this, but at the end of every trip I ensure I leave with that final slay. Feeling cool with my white vest top, booty shorts and my white wedges and I almost forgot, I had a four-wheeler suitcase to top it off. Exactly, nobody could question that I had just returned from holiday, that was the aim of the game.

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I digress, so as I sat in the taxi, I lounged in the chair desperately preparing my mind to get back into reality. The Taxi driver makes that small talk to get you comfortable and BAM. I look at the Taxi meter, why is the meter saying 20 Euros??? I had only just sat inside the taxi! We were stationary and had not gone anywhere yet!

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Look, I had only 30 Euros left, I had not budgeted for this, I frantically asked “Why is it 20 Euros, we haven’t gone anywhere!!!!

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After many hand gestures, raised eyebrows and lip reading to get past the language barrier he says, “It’s because you requested I pick you up at your location!”

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I am looking around thinking is this life? I replied “NO! I was not aware about the pre-charges, I would like to get out the car now!!!”

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He gave me that death stare looked and said “no, you will pay”. And drove

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Yes, you read right, he just drove, with me still in the car.

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At that point I was like ei? You know when your life flashes before your eyes and you’re just thinking you haven’t even done half of the things you wanted to do in life…is this my exit? Like one of character unexpectedly axed from a sitecom.

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He drove me down to Chatillon town centre and it suddenly hit me that this was low key kidnapping.

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I screamed for help whilst we were approaching some traffic, a woman heard my frantic screams and so she came and asked if I was ok. I explained the situation and she immediately tried to speak to the cab driver through the window whilst we were moving in slow traffic.

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As he got distracted by this woman who was pleading with him to let me go, I took this opportunity for my escape. I got out of the car, opened the boot to get my 4-wheeler and ran for my life.

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Having realized this, the man drove fast to catch up with me. Now at this point I felt like Beyonce at the beginning of the dangerously in love video…where she’s walking in booty shorts, such a bad ass. But in reality, I was in the middle of a road in between two car lanes in Chatillon running for my life!

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Now, a black woman in booty shorts, wedges and a vest top running from a cab driver throws around all sorts of stereotypes in Paris.

 

That being – 

 

Prostitution.

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A group of men began to chase me, I saw the bus I needed to take to get to the train station for Charles De Gaulle airport, a sudden sigh of relief and adrenaline rush hit me, I was thinking “yes…yes…I can actually escape this”…and so I pushed my way through to get on it.

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But it was too late.

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This driver caught up with me and had recruited a group of men who grabbed me and my suitcase and screamed “prostitute prostitute prostitute”…“you need to pay you need to pay”.

 

My phone smashed, suitcase broken. They were punching me and I was punching them.

The people in the town stopped and starred. I wasn’t embarrassed, I was disappointed. Nobody helped me. They believed the stereotype. Sniggering, disgusted and laughing.

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After the commotion, I kicked the man’s face and threw him his 20 Euros and got onto the bus. I heard sniggers from middle class French women. Very disheartening because they were blinded by the stereotype and the assumption that I was indeed a prostitute, but they didn’t know the truth.

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I gathered myself after the fight, caught my breath and looked around the bus, I saw the sniggers, the raised eyebrows and I stood tall and exclaimed, “I’m not a prostitute”!!!

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An Australian lady who understood English and French and a Black woman came and consoled me. They told me that that’s how the town are towards some black women and I shouldn’t worry.

I then went to report it to the police station before my flight. It painted a bad picture of my trip.

My mum said for 20 Euros you suffered this ordeal, why didn’t you just give it to him. But it’s the principle, and people cannot get away with such disgusting behavior.

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What would I do differently?

 

Nothing.

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Stereotypes cause so much confusion and misunderstanding. This made me realise how dangerous the media is in creating stereotypes of different races. It’s time to create our own narrative.

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I want you to understand the power that we have in changing the narrative whilst we travel. Change requires a shake up in the status quo and indeed we will encounter many situations like this, but it is these situations that show that we are doing something right.

 

Go and be your unapologetic self in a space where many do not see you in.

 

We are all behind you,

 

Go.

 

Karen Safo

 

Founder of The Black Voyager

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