Sexploitation in SA

2010-05-10 00:00

THE murder of notorious strip club boss Lolly Jackson on May 3 and the ensuing media coverage provided an intriguing peek into the dark underworld of the sordid sex trade in South Africa­. Jackson was the most prominent figure in South Africa’s adult entertainment industry, having enjoyed several high-profile run-ins with the law. Emmanuel­ Lolly Jackson amas-sed a fortune off the sexual exploitation­ and human misery of women. In Jackson’s deviant world, women were nothing more than sexual commodities off which he could profit and which existed­ primarily for the sexual gratification of drooling males.

His misogynistic views reinforced the destructive stereotype that women are nothing more than sex objects. Teazers billboards that were erected along major­ public thoroughfares often featured sexually explicit and provocative images that demeaned and degraded women. He profited handsomely off the flesh trade and spent his life attempting to transform the seedy world of prostitution, sex trafficking and sexual exploitation into a legitimate and socially acceptable industry.

Attempts at passing himself off as a legitimate businessman failed to convince a sceptical public right up to his tragic demise. The gangland-type killing said more about his nefarious business activities than his playboy lifestyle ever did. The king of sleaze was often investigated for sex trafficking and his links to major international criminal figures. His relationship with the Russian underworld was well known and evidently supported by the many Eastern European women who worked in his chain of strip clubs.

Research compiled by the Family­ Policy Institute on prostitution and sex trafficking reveals that strip clubs, escort agencies and massage parlours are mostly fronts for prostitution and sex trafficking. Most of the adult establishments­ that were bust by Cape Town’s prostitution vice squad exposed the deceptive façade­ of the respectable men’s club as nothing more than seedy dens of prostitution and sex trafficking­. Foreign women are routinely enslaved by club bosses who confiscate their passports as a means of manipulation and control­.

It comes as no surprise that Jackson was murdered at a time when major local and international­ crime syndicates are battling to increase their market­ share in South Africa’s lucrative­ illegal sex industry in time for the World Cup. A distinct lack of law enforcement, widespread corruption and desperation driven by poverty and chronic unemployment make South Africa­ a perfect breeding ground for rampant sexual exploitation.

The World Cup tournament provide a compelling attraction to sex traffickers and international crime syndicates. South Africa’s thriving illegal sex industry — largely ignored by the South African Police Services — serves as a pull factor for human traffickers and other organised crime figures­. Despite unconvincing attempts by various groups to romanticise­ prostitution, the reality of this cruel and exploitative trade in human flesh becomes tragically apparent when people are rescued out of the sex industry­. Most prostitutes­ in South Africa resort to selling their bodies out of desperation. The majority are mercilessly controlled by pimps, gangs, criminal syndicates and sex traffickers and are hooked on drugs. Calls to legalise or decriminalise prostitution, ostensibly to contain and regulate the industry are in fact a gift to the human parasites who profit off the sexual exploitation­ of men, women and children.

Prostitution was decriminalised in Sydney, Australia for the same reasons advanced here. However, the Australian media report that Sydney now has an illegal­ sex industry that exists parallel­ to the legal one, but which is four times larger. Child prostitution exploded and the Sydney authorities­ lost control of the sex trade to organised crime lords. People who are trapped in prostitution rarely benefit from legalisation or decriminalisation. This fact is also tragically apparent in New Zealand, the Netherlands and Germany.

South Africa is currently a transit­ destination for human traffickers because of its porous borders and lack of law enforcement. The fact that anti-trafficking legislation in South Africa is still in limbo in Parliament compounds the problem. Hundreds­ of vulnerable men, women and children are being lured into prostitution in the lead-up to the World Cup.

The vice squad in Cape Town reports a marked increase in activity in the illegal sex trade. Brothels appear to be popping up in neighbourhoods across the peninsula­ with alarming regularity. The head of the vice squad, Thomas­ Rautenbach, reports that there is a distinct increase in younger prostitutes on the city’s streets. Brothels that were bust revealed that Chinese, Thai, Ukranian and Mozambican­ women­ are being trafficked into South Africa for sexual purposes.

Lolly Jackson is dead, but his appalling legacy continues through the merciless sexual exploitation of people in South Africa­. I therefore call on all responsible­ citizens to join me in the emancipation of our men, women and children from sexual slavery. Until we achieve this milestone we cannot regard ourselves as a civilised and caring society.

• Errol Naidoo is director of the Family Policy Institute in Cape Town (www.familypolicyinstitute. com).

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