Cobblestones, aircon make our working conditions equally bad, MP tells sex workers

2016-08-18 09:46


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Cape Town – Cobblestones that "break their shoes" and an air-conditioning system that keeps things a tad on the icy side – those are some of the hardships female Members of Parliament face every day, they told sex workers while comparing notes in Parliament on Wednesday.

As sex workers detailed some of the tribulations they face in their jobs – including rape, murder, and having their children taken away from them – ANC MP and Gauteng ANC Women's League provincial chairperson Patricia Chueu pleaded with them not to be angry that their demands were not being met immediately.

Chueu said in the meeting with the multi-party women's caucus that the sex workers had to understand that the MPs worked under equally unsatisfactory conditions.

The sex workers were calling on MPs to accelerate the process of decriminalising their job, as the process was taking too long "while they were dying".

Chueu was at pains to explain the bad working conditions the female MPs were also subjected to.

"Our working conditions are not good. You come to work, you feel very ill, every time you [have a] blocked [nose] because of the air conditioner here. This was a male structure, this Parliament," she said, wrapped in a fleece blanket to protect herself against the offensive air conditioner.

'It's not just you'

But not only were they constantly cold, she complained, they also had to contend with the cobblestones that make walking around Parliament's precinct difficult.

"You walk on the pavement, your shoe goes off every day in that pavement and we have been complaining about it since 1994 when we came here. So it's not just you," she told the sex workers, who had earlier broken down in tears as they described their working conditions to the MPs.

"Our working conditions were not ideal," the MP said, but they "were still there" to do their job.

"We are still talking about it [our hardship], even today," she said.

The fight for women's rights was being won, bit by bit, she said.

"We will get there. Because we are also lobbying other people to help us ensure that the rights of women are being given to them."

Work frustrations

When it came to women's rights, she said, men would not give in easily, as it sometimes took privileges away from them.

"All of these rights are still coming, we will try and push as much as we can, but when we change offices, other people come in and are relaxed," she said.

Everyone has their frustrations at work, including MPs, she told the sex workers.

"I can even tell you about some of the discussions we have here. Including the programming of our schedule in Parliament, which does not suit us as women," Chueu said.

It was good, however, for women to talk about their frustrations to each other.

The women's caucus had presentations from the Commission for Gender Equality, Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce and the SA Law Reform Commission on the decriminalisation of sex work.

Read more on:    cape town  |  sex workers

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