No good in legalising prostitution

2008-08-19 00:00

That prostitution has always been criminalised proved to me that patriarchy is still the sole ruler of South Africa. Prostitution is here to stay, right? Should these women not be empowered to access health care, security from the police and given the chance to live without the burden of a lifelong stigma attached to them?

But recently as a friend and I drove out of a well-known club in Soweto, he nonchalantly pointed out to me that “those girls over there are ‘selling’ and sometimes one of my boys comes to pick them up”. I felt sick.

In my pretty little head, sex workers should be taken care of by loving madams who let them keep the bulk of their earnings while they enjoy the benefits of medical aid. The reality is that the majority are not. Or at least not according to Nthabi (we don’t believe it’s her real name), a girl who I begged my friend to pick up so she could satisfy my curiosity.

“Even if ‘this’ was not illegal anymore I would not feel better about doing it. I still would not be proud to tell my mother and friends, I would not feel safer when walking the streets at night and I don’t think the police would treat me any better if I were to report an assault, robbery or rape. My pimp would certainly not be more lenient,” Nthabi snapped when we asked for her thoughts on legalising sex work.

It began to dawn on me that I, like most of my liberal peers, have little understanding of the reasons many girls enter the ever-thriving sex industry. We usually work on the assumption that because men have little or no control over their sexual urges and that should these urges go unsatisfied, a man could resort to rape; so prostitution is a necessary industry in society.

Very little thought goes into the feelings of responsible men who only choose to exercise their sexuality in a loving relationship or at the very least with another consenting adult. They must feel deeply offended by these notions.

I was also convinced of the premise that the law would protect women and that the sex industry would be rid of illegal drugs and be on the look-out for underage children.

“The nature of my work makes me vulnerable to assault and rape. A lot of girls who come [to the streets] do it out of desperation. I would never encourage young girls to make a living this way. I think our government should be concentrating on enabling poor women to find other ways to make a living. There is nothing good about being a prostitute and selling your body. It robs you of your humanity.”

Nthabi believes the only way out of her torment is if she were to get a bursary so she could go to university. “But I think I have a long way to go. If there is talk about legalising prostitution, I will have a lot of customers who think they have the government’s endorsement to be with me.”

She then charged us R100 for cutting into her working time.

— News24

• Nozipho Masabalala is a 20-something Johannesburg-based writer, currently working in public relations.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.