Remembering friend’s I have lost along the way, and taking a glance at all the violence, rape and inhumane activities, I just can’t help but recognize my luck to alive today.
Prostitution for me began at around twenty years of age, while walking on the popular Voortrekker Road in Parow. I was broke, was supposed to have met a friend who never showed up, and had been waiting for hours and was hungry. A white man offered me some money in exchange for sex, and I couldn’t resist the offer in my position. I thought I would do it and since no one saw me it would be my secret, but above all I thought it was a once-off thing. Little did I know that I was being introduced to a trap that would later expose me to violence, rape and police brutality.
Trapped in prostitution I always deceived myself that I would make a certain amount or send myself to school and that I would soon be out of it. It took me a good fifteen years to finally exit prostitution having both external and internal. During this fifteen years of my life I never experienced being myself because even the hairstyle I could choose was so that I could sell sex.
My story is not that different to many other survivors of prostitution; I was born the last of three children to a single parent who herself lost her mom at twelve and had to work in another household in order to raise us. I was the only girl. I grew up very poor, in a shack, in fact we only started living in a proper structure in December 2008. I had a child at sixteen and by twenty, when I started to sell my body for sex, was a mother of two.
My going into prostitution was motivated when my mother was in debt. It was humiliating and I thought that I should chip in and save the day, and like most girls I thought I would be there for a while and then leave. It looked promising at first and seemed easy money until my very first experience of violence which was to be followed by many incidents of rape and other forms of violence.
I was at some point recruited to lobby for prostitution to be recognized as legitimate work, and that for me, even though it did not reflect my deeper feelings, proved to be my ticket out prostitution. Some reflections after several years working there got me to a realization that, even though lobbying for the decriminalization of prostitution, I wouldn’t want my own daughters to go through what I went through. They might not be as lucky as I was. Then I decided that it is time to end this very exploitative trade that exploits women and girls and further exposes them to vulnerability and other health risks.
I think myself lucky to be alive, even though I am battered and scarred. My vision is a world where no woman or girl is bought, sold and exploited.