The Eastern Cape government is again embarking on a process to decriminalise sex work. It has resuscitated a committee that was formed a year ago.
Sex workers and government officials will test ways of decriminalising sex work.
Nobuhle (not her real name) has been a sex worker for more than 20 years. She had her first child at the age of 18.
She became a sex worker to care for her child as both her parents were already dead at the time.
She says she does not have matric, no skill and so, it is difficult for her to find a job.
Getting out is almost impossible. The recently released unemployment figures underscore the struggle of sex workers.
One sex worker, says, “If the government can open projects for us – maybe poultry – we can do that because we do not like this job, but we don’t have a choice.”
Another one says, “Others say they don’t want to use a condom and offer to pay more and you say yes because you want the money.”
The provincial government says it will include other government structures in its approach to ensure the safety of sex workers in the province.
Social Development MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi says, “We want the best solution to their safety, and them working whilst sex work is illegal, puts their lives at risk and makes them vulnerable to a lot of things.”
Sisonke Movement’s Nomda Qhwesha says, “The place we work in needs to be safe and secure, have guards to protect us and where we can, have all our equipment like condoms.”
The SABC was informed that there are also underage girls working as sex workers in East London. But this could not be independently confirmed.
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