Sex Workers Demand For Better And Equal Treatment

A sex worker claimed that she reported a man she knew for attempted murder but police did not act.

Sex Workers Demand For Better And Equal Treatment-SurgeZirc SA
Photo File: Courthousenews

The KZN legislature hosted its inaugural sex workers’ symposium in Pietermaritzburg on Friday to find resolutions to the exploitative trade for the betterment of the sector.

Sex workers, municipal and legislature officials together with sex work advocates including Sisonke, Asijiki, Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) and Mothers for the Future (M4F) discussed the realities of sex workers in KZN under the theme “I am, we are human”.

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Human trafficking, gender-based violence, were said to be the dominant crimes and more often than not, sex workers could not report the perpetrators because of their illegal status.

Another issue raised by a sex worker before lawmakers was the constant ill-treatment by nurses in public healthcare. She said they were usually humiliated when collecting their HIV medication at clinics as there was no privacy concerning their statuses.

Another sex worker from Durban said opening store accounts proved difficult as proof of income was required by businesses, but they had no payslips in their line of work. Police brutality was another topic discussed. A sex worker claimed that she reported a man she knew for attempted murder but police did not act.

Major General Phumelele Makhoba, an Umgungundlovu district commissioner, assured sex workers that police were on their side. She said the SAPS code of conduct required members to act in a manner that was impartial, courteous, transparent and accountable. She said it also forced police to use their power in a responsible and controlled manner.

Makhoba shared that the top 10 police stations with the largest volumes of sex worker arrests were Durban central, Umbilo, Margate, Point road, Port Shepstone, Greytown, Pietermaritzburg, Bellair, Scottsborough and Tongaat.

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“If you are mistreated by any member of the police, there is always someone in charge at the police station at that time,” she said.

“You can escalate the matter to them or to the station commander and you should be given their details when you ask for them”, said Makhoba.

Recommendations that came to the fore were that the government should fast track the process of full decriminalisation and regulation of sex workers as this will provide much needed freedom for people engaging in sex work. Members of the SAPS were to be held fully accountable for their conduct and abuse of people engaging in sex work.

All healthcare workers, especially nurses, must maintain confidentiality and desist from disclosing illnesses of patients through the segregation of services. They must attend to all patients with dignity because sex work is work.

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