Sex workers want to be legalised


seworkers

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

A sex worker wears a mask to hide her identity at the International Sex Worker Rights Day protest. Picture: Michael Walker

Sex workers from around the province marched to the premier’s office on Thursday and handed over a memorandum demanding the decriminalisation of sex work, because they say the current laws keep them oppressed and stigmatised.

Thursday marked International Sex Worker Rights Day and members of associations in nine African cities marched for sex workers’ rights.

The Cape Town march was attended by the African Sex Workers’ Alliance (Aswa), Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat), the Sisonke Sex Workers’ Movement, Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) and members of the public.

“We call for access to health services and an end to human rights violations against sex workers. When we dare to be powerful, to go on to the streets and make our voices heard, we know there are those who will try to shame and ridicule us, with the hope that we will be isolated and silenced,” Aswa regional co-ordinator Kyomya Macklean said. “But this won’t be the case.”

Protesters wore masks to help protect them from stigma and abuse, and carried red umbrellas, symbolising protection. A sex worker from Gugulethu, who only wanted to be known by her working name “Gugu”, said they were victims of exploitation, police brutality and other abuse daily.

“I’ve been a sex worker and have operated in Bellville for the past four years. It was never my dream to do this, but a reality as there is no work that will pay enough to provide for my family,” she said.

“Becoming a sex worker is a reality when there is no food on the table. We are human beings trying to make a living and shouldn’t be judged.”

A homeless transgender sex worker, who only wanted to be known by her working name “Chevaunacym”, said she had been in the industry for the past 18 years.

“The sex industry has grown since I started and for many it is a result of poverty. I don’t believe anyone strives to do it,” she said.

“We as sex workers are raped, pepper-sprayed, sworn at and have no voice because police don’t regard us as citizens. I am currently attending night school where I hope to complete my basic education and training course.”

WLC attorney Stacey-Leigh Manoek said the WLC and Sweat had “monitored the human rights abuses that are inflicted on sex workers by the police and the vice squad”. She hoped the squad would be disbanded.

She said the WLC had identified various types of abuse including harassment, rape, being issued with unlawful spot fines, being unlawfully arrested and placed in cells with men, and intimidation and blackmail.

“Our research has shown that, of the sex workers interviewed, 27 percent were subject to unlawful arrest and assaults related to the arrest,” she said.

“This is not only a violation of the previous court order obtained by Sweat, but also a violation of the constitutional rights of sex workers. They enjoy the same constitutional rights as others, which include the right to inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected (section 10).

“In addition, everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just cause.” - Cape Times

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paris, wrote

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05:41pm on 4 March 2011
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Its really SAD that those who are commenting online saying that Sex work is illegal are the clients of the girls. 99% of the girls are family men who love to go out and get what they cant get at home. Men who are married are the most clients of the girls and i am saying this because i do work myself. My clients are reputable business and family men. Lets face reality and know that the supply and demand work hand in hand. Why do many people talk about the gilrs and not the clients...conutries like Norway the clients get prosecuted and not the girls. SA needs to wake up and be real and maybe we wont have issues like men raping kids and women or even making porn with kids. If sex work can be controlled then our society would start looking at it in a better way and realise that not all gilrs are druggies or spread HIV. As a working girl i NEVER have sex without a Condom and how many of you the saints do it every weekend?...or maybe should i say HOW MANY OF YOU MARRIED MEN ASK FOR SEX WITHOUT A CONDO FROM A WORKING GIRLS?.....THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU WANT TO FIT IN THE CONVERSATIONS LIKE THESE. Some of you could be named and shamed sooner than you think!!

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JPM, wrote

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02:18pm on 4 March 2011
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Most of the people who say no to legalization of sex workers are women who have jobs to put bread on the table for their kids. It is your husbandsboyfriends who keep the business running there on the streets. If you can't satisfy him he will surely look somewhere else for satisfaction. I was living in Bellville next to McDonalds and most people who get services from those ladies are highly succesfull men driving big cars. Let them render the service because the is a high demand out there.

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Robert, wrote

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01:38pm on 4 March 2011
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Legalize it???? Why don't we just legalize Hi jacker, drug dealers and other criminals that are all look for a living...of others people. How can you respect yourself by doing this so called 'job' Apart from ruining your own live how many other lives do you ruin. You are just working for some other slime ball who just uses you.Where can this type of work and other criminal activities have rights??? MAN, we are a messed up country.

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JLaw, wrote

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12:52pm on 4 March 2011
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@ whambam anonymous.....you ladies are saying exactly why sex should NOT be legalized...it's not that the rest of the public do not care about the people that are forced into prostitution just to keep their families fed, alive and sheltered....you are saying yourselves that it's a "job" that you do NOT enjoy....so don't you think the better option would be striking against the government until we all have better jobs....so prostitution can be abolished once & for all.....I've been raped myself....I know exactly how demeaning it is...so to legalise such an atrocity is totally out of the question. Respect yourself as well as the next woman!

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Steve, wrote

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11:57am on 4 March 2011
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Ironically, their "work" leads to more unwanted pregnancies

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Anonymous, wrote

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11:23am on 4 March 2011
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Great idea. And while we're at it, let's legalise narcotics and ensure that dealers rights are protected as well. After all, they're only trying to provide for their families. If you don't have the money to feed three starving children, stop recklessly copulating after the first one.

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WhamBam, wrote

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11:06am on 4 March 2011
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Selling sex will never be eradicated. If a law is passed and it becomes illegal, people will find a way to still do it, so the obvious route would be to legalize it, and legitimize it. Let these women pay taxes because its a SERVICE they are rendering. This will eliminate the MIDDLE MAN (The pimps) and put them out of business. Currently, these parasites are making money out of someone else's hard work, and I am calling it WORK, because that is exactly what it is. Its a JOB, you get paid for what you do, so why should some acne, drug addicted pimp collect a percentage of the fees charged? I dont care for WHAT reason, women do this, its their body, their decision but I just feel that their rights as individuals should also be protected. So to all those other "women" who are negative about this, get your men a dog collar or learn a few tricks on how to keep your man from straying to a prostitute. Don't hate these sex workers. If you keep your man SATISFIED 247 (and it can be done) you wont find him coming home to you smelling with someone else's perfume among other things. And what pay is there for washing clothes or being someone's maid or even selling the "Big Issue" when you have't gone hungry or seen your kids go to bed with an empty stomach? If you people have nothing POSITIVE to say, keep your mouths shut and your pathetic opinions to yourselves. Go and do your nails, watch the Bold and The Beautiful and get a Brazillian! Your men are oogling some hot chick at work and fantacising on ways to pleasure her (while you get your manipedi!!!!

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:48am on 4 March 2011
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Well, there is a market for them. People are paying for the goods. So why not protect them? A mother will do anything for her children and family, even degrade herself. So don't judge them, help them

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:41am on 4 March 2011
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“I’ve been a sex worker and have operated in Bellville for the past four years. It was never my dream to do this, but a reality as there is no work that will pay enough to provide for my family,” she said. As someone who has done extensive research on sex workers I know some of these women - when you have 3 starving children and no means of earning money what would you do? out of all the sex workers I have spoken to - all do it for their kids. Don't judge a man until you have walked in his shoes. Besides sex workers only exist because their is a deamnd for them -I think that says more about their clients than them.

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Portia, wrote

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10:35am on 4 March 2011
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No! No! sex work must never be legalised actually it must be abolished. Wiped out! not in our Mother-Land, people must learn to work. They must earn their money through legitimate ways. What qualifications or professional organisations will the Sex Workers belong to? Let us not create South Africa a Banana Republic.Who in hisher right mind would allow their children to be prostitutes? Sex is supposed to be enjoyed by two married people. Let us not create a community of dirty-lazy people. No to legalisation of Sex Workers....people must go to school, study and earn their money through working legally and ethically!

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Juan, wrote

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10:29am on 4 March 2011
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Government might as well legalise this as they have practically already legalised rape and murder through their inaction on it.

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:15am on 4 March 2011
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“I’ve been a sex worker and have operated in Bellville for the past four years. It was never my dream to do this, but a reality as there is no work that will pay enough to provide for my family,” she said. As someone who has done extensive research on sex workers I know some of these women - when you have 3 starving children and no means of earning money what would you do? out of all the sex workers I have spoken to - all do it for their kids. Don't judge a man until you have walked in his shoes. Besides sex workers only exist because their is a deamnd for them -I think that says more about their clients than them.

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:12am on 4 March 2011
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Firstly it is rude calling women Whores. Secondly they dont enjoy their jobs they have to do it to provide for theor families. maybe if you take the time to chat to them you would understand that. Thirdly today you cant get a job withour matric but councillors and dont even have a high scgoll pass but they are in their posts. The truth is they were good enough to do the job without education so why not let others have that oppertunity. Most of the jobs advertised in the municipalty ask for matric. maybe a person that has standard 5 can do a better job than a person with matric. I think prostitution should then be legalised thes women are not given a chance to work anywhere else as they are not highly educated and resort to selling themselves to provide for family..

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Karen, wrote

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10:06am on 4 March 2011
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Anonymous - well said, I agree! Let's just all do it, why not? Much easier to lie on your back and earn than to do a proper, honest days' work.....If you really want to work you will find a way - try washing cars or selling the "Big Issue"............

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shylet, wrote

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10:05am on 4 March 2011
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Sex workers should have freedom because they are also citizens . at least they try to minimise number of people who are not working. They ned their rights to be protected in everything they do and those who abuse sex workers they should be sentenced

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biffo, wrote

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09:59am on 4 March 2011
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It would be a great Idea because then in a controlled environment hopefully a lot of the desease etc. could be stopped, the workers would then be checked on a regular basis etc. It works in Holland and Germany, why not here?

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JLaw, wrote

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09:49am on 4 March 2011
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Rights? & Dignity? Oppressed? Stigmatised????? where is the dignity in having sex with somebody you have never met in your life and using the money to feed your children....go wash someone's clothes and respect yourself women!!!!!!

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j, wrote

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09:46am on 4 March 2011
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Provided the sex worker is voluntarily in the trade then they should be licenced and allowed to ply their trade. At least then the trade can be regulated and the criminal elements that currently control large swarfes of it eliminated - or are we still far too prudent for that? Pimps and 'enforcers' are the targets that should be taken out, not the players.

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Ringmaster, wrote

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09:43am on 4 March 2011
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Yes, legalize the profession, seeing that they do it any way. Require them to keep a file on their "clients", issue receipts and pay taxes on their earnings. ID number and banking details of clients must also be kept. They will also need to be registered with SARS.

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bobby brett, wrote

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09:41am on 4 March 2011
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Anonymous. You an idiot. Please use the Fredoom of Speech as a guidline to empowering stimulating debate. I would support any law or legislation to end abuse of any living being. Well Done to everyone that participated. No I am not a worker and did not attend........But I am a Father and Husband.........

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