“My background is not as bad as people assume it to be. I was a privileged child; I went to the best private schools. My mom and dad separated when I was young, but they co-parented in such a way that I always felt loved. So no, I didn’t become a sex worker because I was desperate.”
When she first started sex work she was 23 years old and recalls making two weeks salary in one night. “As nervous as I was that first night as a sex worker, it turned out to be okay because I collected so much money. I made two weeks’ salary in one night, compared to the wages I earned as a waitress.”
Nosipho tells what truly propelled her to becoming an activist for sex workers was the violation and sexual assault sex workers face and even herself.
“A police officer also violated me, and threatened to arrest me if I didn’t get into his van. He drove me to an isolated bush and raped me while threatening me with his gun and power” she said.
Another instance was a case of unfair profiling. A fellow sex worker who was not working on that specific night was walking with her boyfriend with shopping bags and the police stopped her. She was beaten by the cops and Nosipho joined in to help the woman. She realized that if she stripped naked the police could not touch her so she did. She acquired a phone and took a video of the assault but the police confiscated it.
“That was the push I needed to make a difference, not just for sex workers but women in general.”
In 2012 she got involved with Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Task force (SWEAT), while she was still working as a sex worker in Durban. She was then hired by the organisation as a lobbying officer and moved to Cape Town and finally had a voice.
“This is how the justice movement, Sisonke was born. Sex workers are united in fighting for human rights and recognition.”
Source: Sisonke Labase, True Love Magazine, August Issue