Teen hookers flood streets ahead of Cup

2010-02-21 09:56

ALMOST 100 new prostitutes, many of them teenagers, have hit the streets of Cape Town since last month – and police say that the lure of earning big money during the World Cup is one of the reasons.

There has also been a proliferation of illegal massage parlours. Seven of them, employing almost 60 women between them, were fined recently for operating without licences, ­police have said.

Neil Arendse, spokesperson for Cape Town’s Specialised Services Unit, says: “Many of them have told us that they will leave the business after the World Cup … and they call themselves entertainers rather than sex workers.”

The girls obtain their all-night free passes from home by lying to their parents that they are employed at 24-hour food franchises, says Arendse.

Mitchell’s Plain Crisis Line counsellor Geraldine Young says there is growing concern about young girls planning to ­become prostitutes during the World Cup.

“The foreign money that will come into the country is the draw card. They are hoping to make loads of cash.”

But the danger is that they might fall into the clutches of abusive pimps and end up trapped in a life of prostitution. There is also the reality that newcomers might use drugs and alcohol to steel themselves to do the sex work, and end up as addicts.

Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) spokesperson Vivienne Lalu says many sex workers have mixed feelings about the World Cup, and are ­being “realistic while also hopeful”.

“They are worried there will be a clampdown during that period and they will face prosecution.” Lalu adds that it is “suspicious” that the city is acting against sex workers just before the tournament.

The indication that the number of new prostitutes is rising alarmingly is based on a regularly updated register of sex workers that the city’s recently formed vice squad began compiling late last year.

During the vice squad’s operations this month, 96 “new faces” were added to the register, made up of girls operating in Wynberg, Goodwood and Brooklyn, says Arendse.

And the seven illegal massage parlours in the CBD, employing up to eight girls each, were fined under the Land Use Planning ­Ordinance.

“The majority of them were younger than 23 and the youngest claimed to be 17, but actually looked 15,” Arendse says.

While many of the girls say they entered the profession hoping to cash in on the World Cup, organisations working with prostitutes say tough economic times, drug addiction and human trafficking are also contributing factors.

Arendse says: “One girl in Wynberg told us she was brought to Cape Town from KwaZulu-Natal by her boyfriend. She turned to prostitution when he deserted her. Some are even ­introduced to prostitution by their own ­husbands.”

Drug addiction also plays a major role in attracting girls into sex work – and keeping them trapped in that world.

Nicolette Kwalie, a social worker for the SA National Council on Alcoholism and Drug ­Dependency, says: “Some drug merchants even provide mattresses and rooms on their premises, so they can exchange sex for drugs.”

This had led to the saying “a tollie for a lollie”, as many of these girls are addicted to tik and heroin, both of which ­raise the user’s libido. “I had a 14-year-old heroin client who was using her body to get her next fix. She’d sit at the petrol station near the Promenade Mall in Mitchell’s Plain waiting for customers.”

Arendse tells of another heroin addict. “She had taken off her shoes ­because her feet were sore from standing all night. But she said she wouldn’t leave until she made enough money for her next heroin fix.” – West Cape News

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