Claudette is a loving 76 years old husband, a father and grandfather; a champion cyclist, and a campaigner for the rights of sex workers. Claudette is also a woman and a prostitute.
Born as a hermaphrodite, with both male and female genitals, she has spent her life being talked about, especially by strangers who have tried to reduce her to what she is not because of her job, and because of her gender. Strangers often pity her, or try to save her. Claudette does not need saving.
Some would have tried to keep these things private, but because she feels no shame, she shared her story to replace prejudice by understanding. and has refused to be bullied.
Claudette can unnerve because she lives a happy and coherent life while denying moral precepts taken for granted by most, such as selling your body and sexual fidelity. She makes her choices clearly and knowingly, and she loves her life. She lives it without lying to herself or others about her job, her relationships or anything else. She knows who she is and she holds onto her identity and refuses to let others dictate who she should be because of their own prejudices.
Sharing her intimacy has freed her for the burden of lying and feeling ashamed. She has shared the intimacy of her clients as well and seen the relief she brought them by releasing them from their loneliness.
This project is a testimony that seeks to deconstruct prejudices by offering an insight into the rich life of Claudette where prostitution and gender play but two parts. She is an inspiration to those who want to live on their on terms.
As she says: “I’d rather sell my ass than my soul, it’s harder but much cleaner”.
Malika Gaudin Delrieu, is a 24 years old documentary photographer who graduated from the documentary photography course of Newport University, in Wales, in 2011. She has always been interested in documenting social issues. She conducted a documentary on the immigration crisis in southern Europe, which was exhibited in Switzerland. She worked for two years on this project about prostitution. She is convinced that the value of photography lies in its ability to give a voice to those who need to share their stories.
She lives in France and works for the NGO SOS Children Villages, where she is a mentor.