Thursday 2020-04-09

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SEX WORKERS HAVE BILLS TO PAY, TOO

By Ackel Zwane | 2020-02-15

Beyond these borders it is not taboo for a sex worker to join the queue at the government revenue offices to pay for her prostitution licence or else risk being kicked out of her gainful employment. 

 Similarly local commercial sex workers announced last week that they were already implanting their own cost of living adjustments on the clients.

They have pushed the price per bout in line with the market forces, those of demand and supply. Recently, privately conducted market research revealed that clients suddenly found themselves having to choose between a few rounds of beer at the tavern or a single stroke visit to the hooker’s corner, not both in a single weekend. 

While commercial sex work remains illegal in Eswatini, elsewhere on the continent it is one major income earner for the state and such money finds itself into the most crucial of government coffers such as the purchase of drugs in public hospitals or the financing of free primary education.

Currency

 This is because hard currency is just that, hard currency, whether you choose to call it blood money, at some instances, it still remains the much needed purchasing power. Most of our prostitutes generate the hard currency from the scores or so tourists that come to purchase the precious commodity before sneaking out to leave behind similar fortunes with our neighbours with their plush beaches.

Now that commercial sex workers are organised they are rallying their own to defend their rights, after all it is their very own product that is being consumed by the roadside and nobody else’s. 

This is the organisation, just like any other be it labour or humanitarian that seeks to protect the interest of the sex worker. 

In the more advanced countries such organisations are even eligible for state funding.

Surely they would welcome any subvention for hospitalisation of members abused or attacked while in the line of duty. It might not be very long before they are registered for subvention even at the consortium CANGO where they will be paying full subscription only that this time they remain illegal in government thinking. This is despite that research will show that they already provide such an essential service that not just lawmakers/enforcers enjoy but also men of the cloth, as it has been widely reported.

They may be illegal in some quarters such as the police but they are fully recognised in others and with full representation such as in the key affected populations (KAP) assisted by the Country Coordinating Mechanism that also sympathises with drug injectors, tingwazi, ex convicts, the works.

The story of the Department of Justice in the United States that dished out USD500 000 to Hookers for Jesus and another organisation on Tuesday has attracted interest worldwide especially because this is perceived to be a prostitutes’ organisation.

However, Hookers for Jesus an actual Christian group founded by former sex worker and sex-trafficking victim  Lobert in 2007.

Lobert’s mission is to save prostitutes; to save them from the streets and, if possible, bring them to church and to God.

A one-time escort, Lobert now enlists other ex-prostitutes and volunteers from a local church to reach out to working girls on the street, in the casinos, even over the Internet.

It operates Destiny House, a one-year safehouse programme for sex-trafficking victims and women who want to leave sex work, as well as a number of other outreach programmes, Newsweek reports.

 It is alleged that guests under the safehouse programme are forced to attend church services and cannot read any “of those crazy magazines that push the Devil’s work, secular magazines that might include makeup tips or advice on clothing or sex.”

homosexuals

Everyone is welcomed at Hookers for Jesus except homosexuals, who the group reportedly finds immoral. So basically, magazines with makeup tutorials and homosexuals are banned from Hookers for Jesus.

Not only is the programme poorly named and completely off its goddamn rocker, Newsweek notes that the group’s policies could “violate federal anti-discrimination laws.”

But maybe Voice of Our Voices, the local sex workers’ organisation is not about quitting or helping others exit the industry, it is about how to survive in the sex trade. Hooker for Jesus is an organisation born in Sin City itself, Las Vegas.

In 2018 sex workers told a October 30 Sex Workers National Indaba that four in 10 sex workers in Eswatini were raped by uniformed police officers.

They were also raped by soldiers and security officers.

The data was actually made available by National Key Populations and Vulnerable Groups Officer Khanyisile Lukhele from the Swaziland National AIDS Programme (SNAP) who also said 44 per cent of those who were raped were afraid to report the attack for fear of being stigmatised, it was reported.

She said half the sex workers who took part in a survey said they were refused police protection and some had been blackmailed and physically harassed. The sex workers said they do not get any police protection and every time they are attacked and call the police they are simply told to go to sleep.

It is not certain whether this data has been put to the test but it is sufficient if it comes from the sex workers themselves who have everything to lose by keeping quiet but nothing to lose if they speak out.

The central problem is that prostitution remains illegal in Eswatini and any attempt to legalise it as is the campaign by the Voices of Our Voices, is generally received with rebuff because of the strong Christian and cultural values held by people of Eswatini.

prostitution

There has never been any national forum to discuss prostitution except by those who practice it. Similarly LGBTI has been met with similar resistance when they tried to register their association. [Prostitution in Eswatini is illegal, the anti-prostitution laws dating back to 1889, when the country Eswatini was a protectorate of South Africa.

 Law enforcement is inconsistent, particularly near industrial sites and military bases. Police tend to turn a blind eye to prostitution in clubs – wikipidea]

A pro prostitution movement is in motion we can only wait and see whether it gains velocity but it will not be until a very long time that people of this country will embrace them in the safe way is sex work as rampant in places like Down River Road in Kenya.

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