The Guard

The Truth On Board

Safety comes first

By Emily Setona

QWAQWA – Sex workers in Maluti-a-Phofung (MAP), have advised women with better options and prospects to pursue and hold on to them in order to avoid falling into the trap of sex work.

According to local NGO, Tholoana e Molemo their database reveals that there are 3642 sex workers in the Thabo Mofutsanyana District municipality while MAP has the largest recorded number of 1234.
This emerged on June 26 at a workshop to empower sex workers.
One of them, Mathapelo Mohale* related that, growing up, she was raised in a religious environment, but life dealt her a hard blow when she was the only one among her sibling who thought of supporting their grandmother by bringing money home because her pension was not enough to support all of them in the household.

“It wasn’t easy for me to make this decision; I wouldn’t advise anyone who has a better alternative to enter this profession because it has many challenges. I saw my grandmother struggling to support me and my other siblings who don’t seem to want to work, so after several failed attempts to find a job I decided to become a sex worker. I can say that I am good at what I do but I am working to make enough money so that one day I can come out of this industry. The labelling and stigma are very humiliating because my children who live with me play with other kids in the neighbourhood and they say mean things. The health care practitioners and SAPS also violate our rights, so I really wouldn’t encourage others to go this route to earn a living,” Mohale said in interview with The Guard.

Former sex worker Phindile Mokoena* said she left the profession in 2010 because she saw that she was playing with her life.
“I would like to share with all of you gathered here that I am a person living with HIV and I stopped working as a sex worker because I could see that I was playing with my life. I am at stage 3 of this virus, meaning that I take 8 pills in the morning and 7 in the evening. So, I urge you who are only taking 1 pill now to really ask yourselves whether you want to continue playing with your lives, because when you get to the stage where I am you are playing with fire. I turned to sex work because I was not employed and back then Harrismith was a hot spot for making lots of money as a sex worker. I used to have high profile clients and loved money and made a lot of it, in 2010 I decided to stop,” Mokoena said while talking to the crowd.

According to Nhlanhla Malindi a reactor who works for Tholoana e Molemo – an organisation that services and assists the key population of vulnerable groups particularly sex workers, the impact of all this is very painful on the children.

“Our backgrounds contribute a lot to the decisions we make as people because our community has a high rate of unemployment but ever since I started working for this organisation, I realized that the children are hurting because they are grossly neglected and some of them are often abused because their parents are out there trying to make ends meet. I urge and encourage people to really take time and think about the children.

Yes, peer pressure makes them demand things from their parents and all parents want to provide the best for their children, but the consequences of being raised by a parent who works in this profession are very heart breaking and traumatizing,” Malindi told The Guard.

*Names changed to protect their identities.