” piped up an elderly gent as a group of conservative white folk behind me answered with a gentile “Here, here!” in the fashion of old British colonial parliament.
In an article released in 2012 which revolved around a study conducted by The Sex Worker Education & Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), Sisonke (a movement spearheaded by sex workers for sex workers and one of the orgainsers of the meeting), and the Women’s Legal Center, stated that in interviews conducted with 308 sex workers, 70 percent reported that they had been wrongfully treated by the police.
“The main types of abuse include assault, harassment, arbitrary arrest, violation of procedures and standing orders, inhumane conditions of detention, unlawful profiling, exploitation, bribery and denial of access to justice” – Melissa Turley 2012.
Madokwe also made note of how certain B&Bs in the area were operating as illegal brothels and running their trade without the correct licenses, as well as offering hourly rates to facilitate the industry.
The meeting was then open to the public to air their points of view and a certain paradox started to emerge.
With rampant unemployment in South Africa, many of these sex workers are working the streets in order to feed their families.
Miss Thuli Khoza, a sex worker who is a part of the Sisonke Sex Workers Movement, stood up bravely in front of the white sea of angry faces and urged the community to work with the sex workers to create a safer environment.
In their private love lives, the participants were less cautious about exposing themselves and their partners to HIV infection, hence the conclusion that the respondents face a greater threat of HIV infection from their lovers than from their clients.
Finally, male street prostitutes, like female street prostitutes, do however face some risk of HIV infection as a result of their involvement with commercial sex.
She went on to explain how the buyers should be brought to task and that the criminalisation of sex work promotes the spread of HIV/Aids.
Nicole Graham, ward councilor for the area, said she does not believe in the criminalization of sex workers within a personal capacity and she believes that the issue of sex work is one of the biggest problems she faces in the community.
“The poster regarding sex work that was circulated this week is not what the meeting is about,” stated Nicole Graham, ward councilor for the DA, in an attempt to set the facts straight. The meeting was staged to acknowledge a problem and address the issues from both sides of the spectrum and possibly let people get a broader understanding of an incredibly complex social issue.