A former prostitute’s brave confession

2012-09-27 00:00

SHE looks like any ordinary middle-class, middle-aged woman — yet she was once a prostitute. Now this Pietermaritzburg woman has written a tell-all book about her life in an effort to start afresh. Nataly (not her real name) says she was prompted to write the book after an interview with a journalist (The Witness, September 10, 2009).

Her book Shall I Confess? is not so much a saucy account of bedroom antics with clients as a description of the circumstances and desperation that led to her decision to to earn a living as a prostitute.

“In fact, most of the men I slept with for money did not hurt me and treated me with respect,” said Nataly. “They complimented me about my body and were grateful. The men who hurt me were the ones I had relationships with.”

Nataly was sexually molested by a grandparent when she was a young child and then almost raped by a male family friend when she was a teenager. Her husband was an alcoholic and used to beat her when he was drunk, and her mother was often beaten by her father.

After she stopped being a prostitute, a man she was going to start a new life with in Johannesburg stole her money and raped her.

Against this background of abuse, it is ironic that her “clients” treated her with kindness and decency. She says she was nervous when she placed the classified advert in the newspaper and she was careful when she screened customers as she did not want to do kinky stuff.

“I could hear by the way they spoke to me if they were weird or if they were trouble. Perhaps because I was a bit older.” She took them to a discreet B&B and she would never have sex with more than two or three clients a day.

“I just wanted to make enough money to survive. My family knew what I was doing and I had applied to every company in town for a job. I had worked as a legal secretary, I had good references, and my CV was in circulation, and we had no food on the table. I did what I had to do. What makes me bitter is that my family knew we were struggling and yet they literally ignored us.”

Nataly believes it is time to live an honest life and to stop feeling guilty for having a secret. “I am sure some people will think that I might steal their husbands or think I am an easy woman. The truth is that men who go looking for prostitutes go because their wives are not giving them sex.

“Most of the men who came to me said their wives would not kiss or cuddle, and sex was out. I was not a prostitute, but a substitute. My children know what I had done, and they encouraged me to write the book because they thought it would help me and also enlighten people.

“I am not a woman who sleeps around. In fact, I don’t like it when men touch me or get too friendly.” As she lights up another cigarette, her hands shake. “I am actually very nervous, because when people read the book I will see who my real friends are. People can be very judgmental and I know this. People have been judging me since I was young for various things, and I no longer care because I am who I am.”

She now lives with her three adult children, and her granddaughter in a small two-room apartment. She has a job as a supervisor in a factory, working night shift, and she says she is earning much less than she was in her previous “position”.

But at least she has a job, and she can hold her head high and say that she earns honest money. “We battle and life is tough. But I will never be desperate enough to make a decision to be a prostitute. Others have it worse. They stand on the streets and they get mugged and beaten. But it’s all about how you value yourself and also about how people value you.

“I still say if people cared enough about me and my family, I would never have had to do what I did. So when people judge me, I think they should buy the book and read it. Then they should ask if they do anything to help those women, who are not doing prostitution because they love sex. It’s a job.”

• Shall I Confess? is being launched on September 28 at 6 pm, at Westmore Park Club, Havelock Road, Pietermaritzburg. The public is welcome. The book is available from local bookshops.

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