This unmade my day

How did this sweet little Oxford math prodigy become a $260/hour prostitute?

No idea. I mean, yes, her father was the Joe Jackson of mathematics. He pushed those children way too hard in one area of life, and in the end, it wasn’t worth it. He was probably also sexually abusive, which ruins people in ways that we are only starting to understand.

According to the website she works through, Sufiah Yusof aka “Shilpa Lee” is “available for booking every day from 11am to 8pm.” That doesn’t leave time for anything else, except prime time television. Everything is gone. It’s absolutely terrifying to think that something led her to completely die inside like that.

6 Responses to “This unmade my day”

  1. 1 costumesupercenter March 31, 2008 at 15:43

    Like I said else where, that is truely terrible, I can’t even begin to comprehend what it is like to push something into something like that

  2. 2 globalglamour March 31, 2008 at 17:16

    That’s so sad, and such a shame especially when she’s soooo clever! Hope she does well anyway!


  3. 3 Karen September 24, 2008 at 08:26

    Oh please. Prostitution (or “sex work”, as those who work in that area prefer it to be known) is certainly not the soul-destroying activity you seem to suggest.

    A friend of mine (with no shortage of brains) is on the game, and from what she’s said it would seem to be a mixture of satisfying the customer sexually and emotionally. Not so much “the old in-out-in-out” as “sexual healing”. She’s in Australia where the practice is legal: she operates from a house, where she pays taxes and house fees but still gets a sizable chunk of the money for herself.

    In her lower moments she’ll admit the work sometimes gets her down, but that would be due to the unpleasantness of certain clients. Anyone who works with the public – as I do, in a different capacity – would say the same thing.

    Finally, what really annoys me is that had Sufiah gone from Oxford into, say, merchant banking – and ruined the world’s stock markets by shady practices, as many Oxford graduates have done – doubtless everyone would be calling her a “success” now! Whereas, if she chooses to express her sexuality and get paid for it, then that’s somehow indicative of “failure”.

    If she’s happy with sex work, I see no reason to lament.

  4. 4 amherstdam September 24, 2008 at 11:10

    Here’s a couple of problems with your argument:

    a. Legality. In England, unlike here in the Netherlands, prostitution is very illegal. That already sets up an unfairly stressful working condition for her. She’s putting herself in danger. The “unpleasantness” of clients becomes magnified when you can’t even call the police if someone beats you and steals your earnings.

    b. Family history. There are lots of people with “normal” childhoods who go into sex work– that not the case with Sufiah. If you read the articles about her family (and about her father’s sex abuse trial after that) you realize that her story follows one of those cringe-worthy cliches about prostitution; sometimes, it’s an extension from some sort of trauma in childhood. Sufiah had such an extreme history, it would be stupid to ignore that it possibly contributed to her choice to, effectively, enter a “life of crime.” I hope that she’s happy, but I don’t want to delude myself and say that there’s zero possibility that she is intensely unhappy.

    c. The Math thing. If she ever wanted return to mathematics either though academia or some other job, it’s going to be very difficult for people to take her seriously. We still live in a world where sex work shuts more doors than it opens. It’s not fair, but we all know that this is the current state. Besides, with her prodigious talent, she could have become more than a humble destructive i-banker.

    It’s just too bad she couldn’t become a working math genius who has tons of fun, legal sex for free, not to support herself.

  5. 5 Karen September 26, 2008 at 11:21

    Well said, and I would respond:

    a) legality – that’s not Sufiah’s fault, that’s this country’s fault. Some men and women will always want to pay for sexual satisfaction, and, rather than criminalizing those who provide this service, this government should accept the inevitable and legalize them. Paid sex between consenting adults should not be a “crime” in the same way as burglary, rape and violent assault are crimes… should it?

    b) family history – thanks for alerting me to the father’s prosecution for sexual assault! I hadn’t heard, and quite frankly it’s a disgrace that Sufiah’s choice of profession has sparked more public condemnation than her father’s sexual assault on two underage students. Can we say “the eternal double standard”?

    But to address your point – yes, this may be a case of a woman choosing sex work as a result of childhood abuse. That in itself is quite sad. However, there’s no indication that she’s self-abusing through alcohol, drugs or self-harm. (Doesn’t even sound as if she’s indulging in S&M, or any other potentially worrying sexual kinks.) She may be unhappy, but if she is she’s in a position where she can save enough money to leave the profession and live comfortably. I’m saving my pity for those who are unhappy and have no means of escape at all.

    c- the Math thing: she can assume another pseudonym and history, and get quite far until her former profession is dug up and thrown in her face. And then by that point her colleagues will probably say, “So what? Do you know how much of a genius this woman is?”

    I once met a woman training to become an opera singer, who admitted she’d been on the game for a short while before her new career. If she were to hit the big time and then get “busted” in the press, would the Metropolitan Opera immediately drop her? Not if she could still hit the high notes! It would be the same for Sufiah, if she ever chose to return to Maths.

    I would finish by stating that if Sufiah wanted to be a working math genius, she’d doubtless make the effort to be one. After her father’s hothousing techniques she probably associates Maths with exploitation and sex work with freedom. Yes, it’s a shame the world of Maths has lost such a star – but blame the father for that, not the daughter.

  6. 6 cannibal January 10, 2009 at 20:07

    it is really funny when the world cares for one woman whom they think is the most saddest person on earth. it is not true, if she was sad in life, she has achieved the best from life n she is enjoying it. stop showing fake sympathies, there are many people who are suffering from pain and still couldnt get best from life, because even if thry try hard they can never succeed.
    she is clever enuf to get out from whatever business she is, so stop showing symapthy and let her live the way she wants to.

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March 2008
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