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Kimberley - The female condom needs to be made more widely available to help protect prostitutes, the Young Communist League of SA in the Northern Cape said on Wednesday.
“We need to intensify the distribution of condoms, and make sure that they reach this section of communities, as well as the popularisation of female condom,” spokesman Lebogang Olyn said.
The league in the province began interviewing prostitutes in areas including Kimberley, Colesberg, De Aar, and Upington, to find out what drove them into prostitution.
“They told us they are in prostitution to make a living because they are either single mothers or from youth-headed households,” he said.
The women told the league police and petty criminals often harassed them.
“Some of the prostitutes are objects of syndicates who... pay their electricity, rent, and buy them groceries, in exchange for them selling their bodies and paying the proceeds to their owners.
“They are also fed with drugs as a means for them to forget the miseries of their trade, and the... abuse that they face from both their owners and their customers.”
The women did not know where to turn for help as their families rejected them because of the stigma attached to their profession.
“We need to realise the fact that these activities that we deem as immoral are not as a result of the choice of those who perpetuate them. They are also as a result of the material, social, and economic conditions that these people find themselves in.”
Olyn said some of the prostitutes' customers pressured them into having unprotected sex, which exposed them to sexually transmitted diseases.
The fact that female condoms were not widely commercially available made it more difficult for prostitutes to protect themselves.
“Through our campaign, we wish to minimise a perception or an expectation that it's men who must wear a condom, but to encourage women to wear a female condom.”