I’m not ashamed anymore”

Sisonke has helped me to accept who I am. Whatever it is that I do, I am doing it to survive.

In my province I have assisted Sisonke in recruiting members, mobilising them and educating them. I also help give condoms to my community Monday to Friday mornings.

Through Sisonke I have learned not to be afraid of standing up for myself. I have been through a lot and the training has shown me how to fight for my rights. I’ve learnt about human rights through the Sisonke training.

What I have noticed that those that were far away from me are now closer to me. Because I sat them down and I told them everything. Now they will call me and me how is life and how I am doing. It makes me feel like a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulder. Now that everything is out in the open and I don’t have to afraid. Now I feel free I am living a healthy life. This experience helped me to change the closeness of my relationships. In future I can help other sex workers improve their relationships.

Since I came back from JHB, I went to the police station and I explained there is a difference between a sex worker, or prostitute or someone who has been trafficked. I explained to them that I expect from them to work hand in hand with sex workers. I went and demanded those things from them. Now with sex workers are on the street, we could work well with them because we see crimes on the street. And they said that we can now report crimes to them without being turned away. The police also promised that if a sex worker wants to open a case, they will make sure that it is investigated, and that justice is done. Even though sex work is criminalised, the sex workers who have cases to open will be treated like any other South African citizen.

At the clinic, I spoke to the nurse in charge and the clinic manager. I told them what I expect from them when sex workers come to the clinic with rape cases, when they come to collect their medications (ARVS/STI/TB) they must be treated with respect and not judged because their job is to provide health care. They said they will help all sex workers because they are human beings.

It is important to talk to other sex workers in Kuruman going forward to see whether the police and healthcare providers have changed their attitudes and approach. It will be easier to monitor at the clinic because I work there but for other complaints, I will do my best to make sure that the police keep their word. It is an ongoing partnership with them, and it might take time to bring all law enforcement on board.

I asked the Pastor “if you see a sex worker doing sex work what do you see” and I spoke to her about the bible verse “let he without sin throw the first stone” and instead of engaging with me she walked away. Pastors are part of the community as I am trying to be a change driver, this pastor didn’t want to engage with him. Community members like Pastors can be difficult to bring to the table because they have so much influence in the community. So that will always be a challenge. Its not her job to judge, she is supposed lead all the children of God.

I am going to give you three things that I want:

  1. I want to see sex work to be decriminalized, that is my main goal
  2. I want to see myself as an ambassador of Sisonke who has made a huge difference especially in LGBTQAI
  3. I see myself as the Sex Worker in Kuruman who fights for sex workers on a day to day basis as they are my peers.

It’s important for sex workers to continue speaking up and I will help them find their voices.