Sex Work in South Africa: Shaming Sex Workers Away from Human Rights

Sex Work in South Africa: Shaming Sex Workers Away from Human Rights

Featured on prominent blog The Feminism Wire! 


What Feminism Can Learn from Sex Workers

What Feminism Can Learn from Sex Workers (hyperlink article)

Key Points:

“But Molly a sex work and blogger says she’s selling a service, not herself: “There is nothing more misogynist than implying/stating that I’m selling ‘myself’ when I sell sex. I am a lot more than my vagina and what I do in bed, and I expect feminists to understand that.”

“Not everyone agrees with decriminalization, but everyone — especially feminists — should at least pay attention to how laws against sex work affect the workers themselves. Feminism aims to support women’s self-determination over their work and their bodies, and it shouldn’t swoop in to tell sex workers how to feel about either.”

“Feminism has gotten into trouble in the past when it attempts to speak for (or simply ignores) marginalized women rather than listening when they speak for themselves.”

“Laura Murray, director ofA Kiss For Gabriela, a documentary about a sex worker and activist who ran for congress in Brazil, says that everyone needs to be able to see sex workers “as the protagonists in their own lives.” Too often, non-sex workers instead see them as “as victims who don’t have any control of their lives” or as “completely irresponsible and lost.” But neither is accurate, and in order to understand what they need, feminists and everyone else need to listen to what sex workers actually say.”

Bridging theory & practice: easier said than done……..

Bridging theory practice: Easier said than done........

Every Wednesday I help co-facilitate a webinar on sex work and feminism. Ill be honest its been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. How do we make this a unilateral and not top down, so that we are learning from one another? How do we make feminism practical? How do we make feminism practical when we can only speak in English and not their mother tongues? How do I explain feminism without the jaded academic jargon yet at the same time how do I unlearn that just because I have an ivy league degree and speak 3 languages doesn’t make me the teacher, that they actually know feminism and that I am simply their to arm them with the english words to articulate how they feel. How do we move feminism from theory into real quantifiable action? How can feminism empower women who are consistently raped, made to feel inferior because of their profession and even their so called feminist sisters silence their agency, their choice and autonomy by claiming that sex work is rape and simply a profession under the guise of patriarchy? I don’t know but we are going to figure this out together! BRIDGING THEORY AND PRACTICE ❤

“I hear you talking about power of woman but what about me as a sex worker?”

Freedom by Noluthando

As a mother of two children I didn’t get freedom.

Instead of getting freedom I get hate.

I hear you talking about power of woman but what about me as a sex worker?

I raised my children alone with that money.

I don’t understand why people judge us without reason.

I am a feminist.

I do all things that women do.

I am a father and I am a mother because I manage to make a better life and feed my children.

You feminists said we are equal but me on my side I still struggle to raise my voice.

Where is the freedom of a sex worker?

People take advantage of us and kill and rape us.

If I die who is gonna raise my children?

The people rape outside but they take them in (arrest) for 1 or 2 days and then we see them again.

I am not a bad person.

I am selling sex, I am not killing anyone

Where is my freedom?

This is an entry for the “Feminist Flash Fiction 2013” writing competition from Mookychick Online.
Enter now.

Please visit:

SWEAT/Sisonke Webinar Participation

SWEAT/Sisonke Webinar Participation

Since the beginning of the Webinar series SWEAT/Sisonke have been actively involved in gaining information and adding the feminism framework into our movement to decriminalise sex work.

As we do feel the series is rooted in a more academic space, during the webinar we have two co-facilitators who analyze concepts discussed such as feminism (s), capitalism, elitism, gender, sex, “social constructions”, and the western gaze to name a few in addition to answering questions. Our goal is to learn across the table and we hope via our blog submissions many will begin to understand how sex work and feminism are interdependent.

Pictured here are the participants and below are a few final comments on the webinar series.

Sandra: ” Today it was very nice with SWEAT and Sisonke members. I learned about feminism. I think in our culture power is controlled by men. Everything that is happening in our community only men are in position. I am a Sex Work Feminist. Feminism with regard to equality for example polygamy”

Leigh: “Western funders still decide what they want us to do because they finance it”

Shameeze: ” I learned that we can work and do stuff together to try and fight against gender violence and sex workers rights”

Nawhaal: “I learned we are all equal and need to stand together as one and speak as one. Their is hope for all.”

Dudu: “As a sex worker how can we work on understanding and engaging with other feminist groups.”

Priscilla: “To me now as a person who knew nothing about feminism, I am now a bit clearer. We need equality, we also need to be treated as women. Gender equality is also very important. I also I need the involvement of Christians because they stereotype us the most.”

Sex Worker’s Lament


Why our job has to be judged
Why our job has to be discriminated
Why our job has to be despised
Why our job has to be stigmatized
Why our job has to be cursed
Sex work is my job.

We are called Prostitutes
We are called Oomarhosha
We are called Oonopaka
We are called Amhenyukazi/Oonoongogo
Sex work is my job.

People believe that this is against God’s Kingdom
Evil spirits are associated with us
We are said to be HIV spreaders
And other sexual transmitted infections
Sex work is my job.

Should we sit down and fold our arms
Should we be beggars
Should we be scroungers
Should we expect to be spoon fed like babies
Sex work is my job.

Musicians are selling their voices
Athletes are selling their speed
Soccer players are selling their feet
Rugby players are selling hand and feet
Sex workers are selling sex
All this is done with the use of the body
What is wrong with selling sex
Sex work is my job.

We have responsibility like everyone else
We need to put something on the table
We have families to take care of
We have children to look after
No life without finance
Sex work is my job.

What sin have we committed for being sex workers
Whose business is it for me being a sex worker
It’s my body it’s my business
Let me use my body
And let me do my business
Sex work is my job.

Police stop harassing us
Stop pepper spraying us
Stop violating us
Stop violating out rights
Stop making us pay unnecessary bribes
Stop robbing us. Sometimes we go back home with noting in our hands.
You have a better job than us
Sex work is my job.

Should we join burglars
Should we join shoplifters
Should we join hijackers
Should we join robbers
Rather than selling sex
Sex work is my job.

We call upon the government
We need the governments intervention
We need sex work to be decriminalized
Sex work is my job.

-Priscilla (Sex worker and Sisonke member)

This is an entry for the FEMFLASH 2013 writing competition from Mookychick Online. Enter now.

Please visit: