‘How do I know my client is not a rapist?’

2013-04-23 10:00

Maria* has been a sex worker operating out of Polokwane’s CBD since the 2010 World Cup.

“I spend most of my days sleeping, reading, watching television or just window-shopping at Mall of the North. Later in the afternoon, I spend about an hour bathing, deciding which of my favourite perfumes and outfits I should wear to entice male clients.

“During the summer months, I and many of my colleagues hit the streets at about 7pm. At face value, it looks like the easiest of jobs that one can do, but believe me, it is not.

“It is one of the most dangerous jobs that any woman can do, especially in a country like South Africa, where violence against women is so rife.

“Some clients don’t want to use our rooms. They prefer the comfort of their own homes, or hotels. How do I know that the client is not some serial rapist who is out on the prowl? How do I know that this person promising me R5 000 to f*** me the whole night is for real? At best, he could refuse to pay and, at worst, he could just kill me at his home.

“I’ve been arrested. Many of my colleagues here will tell you harrowing stories of harsh police treatment. Since I arrived three years ago, two colleagues have disappeared. It’s a risky job, but we need to make a living.”

*Not her real name

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