Sex workers complain about clients

Gathering in Calvary Church in Quigney, East London. AFSA, SWEAT and other human rights organisations listened to sex workers’ complaints.

Working as a sex worker on the streets of East London is painful because many lose their lives due to abuse by clients, this came out when the AIDS Foundation South Africa (AFSA) and the sex workers’ organisation in BCM, SWEAT held a discussion about the challenges they face in their work.

The meeting was held at the Calvary Church in Quigney, East London, the theme was: “My work should not cost my life.”

A sex worker, speaking privately with the media, said that they work hard, and they are not safe. “We work very hard on the street and today’s event I can see is going to make a difference because we will now have security as the police were present at the event. And people will be able to see that we are human too. People will know that this is our job and no matter what it is, we can make ends meet,” said the sex worker.

These sex workers still have dreams they want to fulfil in their lives. One of the sex workers said that she is working towards starting her own business one day with the money she makes from sex work, as she swears that she will never die as a sex worker.

The Human Rights Manager of AFSA, Nontuthuzelo Fuzile, said sex work is not only for women, but men are also involved.

“We will not rest until sex workers are legal and not exploited. We want to teach those who are still criticising sex workers about the rights of sex workers,” said Fuzile.

Fuzile went on to say that sex workers have different and valid reasons like those who do not want to be sex workers and they should not be criticised and insulted.

Eric Daweti who is a sex worker said it is sad and difficult to be a sex worker in BCM, many of his colleagues have lost their lives. He said that they are different and that everyone sells themselves but in different ways.

Daweti went on to say that they need community support and not criticism. He said they have suffered abused in the hands of the police who are supposed to be protecting them. He said he wishes the government would protect them and take them into consideration.

Captain Themba Lamani of the Fleet Street police who attended the event, said what his police colleagues are doing to the sex workers is unacceptable. He said that they should protect them instead of mistreat them as the sex workers have disclosed. He said their actions tarnish the reputation of the police. Lamani said that their job as police officers is to protect the public.

Representing the Forum Council in BCM, Ndzuzo Novuka, said sex work is also a job. Society should treat sex workers with respect and not condemn them. He said they should be respected because they are people and have rights, at the end of the day they put food on the table for their families. He said they will make sure sex workers work well, freely, and safely.

Some of the organisations that attended the event were Beyond Zero, SWEAT, SAPS, Sisonke and Buhlebethu.