By Zama Khumalo, Daily Sun
Photo: Prostitutes took to the streets to protest against police harassment.
There is an ongoing crisis for prostitutes who are often manipulated into having sex by police to avoid arrests.
That’s one of the stories told by an abused woman on Saturday, which was International Sex Workers’ Rights Day.
The ladies of the night marched against police harassment across the country.
Sex worker Ayanda Mbangi (36) told Daily Sun that she was forced to have sex with those who were supposed to protect her.
It was 16 August last year when she was standing at the corner of Mooi and Albert streets in Joburg with other prostitutes when the cops arrived. The others managed to get away but she was left behind to face the cops on her own.
“I couldn’t run because of a hip and ankle injury I sustained in a car accident in 2009. They threatened to arrest me for selling sex in a public area. They then drove around with me and asked how much I charged for a session.
“I told them my asking price was between R25 and R30. I became suspicious when one of them kept asking about my job.
“He told me that he hadn’t been with a woman for three weeks. While pushing up my skirt, he tore my underwear and told me to treat him like a client. When he was done, he kicked me out of the car and told me he wasn’t going to arrest me,” said Ayanda.
Prostitutes march through Mzansi cities
Prostitutes marched on cop shops in big Mzansi cities on Saturday to protest against police harassment.
This was on International Sex Workers Rights Day.
In a memorandum handed over to station commanders, the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy taskforce said:
“The police arrest and detain us without charges and without the intention of prosecuting us.”
Wearing masks and waving placards describing their suffering, they called for urgent action on their complaints.
“Our rights are being violated for doing work that supports our families,” they said.
The prostitutes also called on the government to stop treating their work as crime.
“Should sex work be decriminalised, then we would be able to work hand in hand with the police in combating crimes such as human trafficking,” said Sisonke national co-ordinator Kholi Buthelezi.
Central Joburg Police Station Commander Ronnie Rajin said he was prepared to meet the prostitutes to discuss their complaints against cops.
Provincial police commissioners in the provinces are expected to respond to the charges.
[This news article was originally sourced from the Daily Sun newspaper, on Monday March 5, 2012 (see attachment below for the PDF version of this article)]
Here are more photos of the Johannesburg Central Police Station march, taken by Hoosain Khan, of Wits University:
By Vuvu Vena, Daily DispatchPhoto: Masked sex worker rights organisations around East London called for police protection and an end to police abuse on Saturday during International Sex Worker Rights Day.
Marking International Sex Worker Rights Day, members and representatives of sex worker rights organisations across the country marched to police stations calling for an end to the violence experienced by sex workers at the hands of police.
In East London, close to 150 sex workers and representatives from the Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) and Sisonke – a national sex workers’ movement – marched to the Fleet Street police station.
The group presented a memorandum of grievances to a police representative. They demanded that police stop:
- Publicly humiliating sex workers;
- Targeting and profiling sex workers in a degrading manner;
- Demanding sexual favours in exchange for not being arrested;
- Harassing and unlawfully arresting them;
- Detaining them in inhumane conditions;
- Beating and raping them while in detention;
- Refusing HIV-positive detainees access to their treatment; and
- Searching them and using the condoms they find on them as proof they are breaking the law.
Similar protests took place in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Rustenburg, and Louis Trichardt.
“The criminalisation of sex work forces sex workers to live in fear of police who harass and abuse them with impunity.
“Sex workers are being arrested and their rights are being violated for doing work that supports their families,” the organisations said in a media statement. In the lead up to the 2010 Fifa World Cup Sweat had become vocal in the call for the decriminalisation of sex work.
Sally-Jean Shackleton, director of Sweat, said: “In South Africa sex work is completely criminalised; anything relating to that is criminalised. “What we need to do is address the stigma.”
Shackleton said the organisation supported the decriminalizing of sex work and the formation of protective legislation for sex workers.
Police spokesperson Captain Stephen Marais said they had received the petition and it would be forwarded to the relevant people for attention. Asked how big a problem sex workers were in East London; Marais said: “We don’t have a serious problem with sex workers in East London.”
[This news article was originally sourced from the Daily Dispatch newspaper, on Monday March 5, 2012 (see attachment below for the PDF version of this article)]
Here are more photos of the Fleet Street Police Station march (East London) taken by Mickey Meji, SWEAT's Networking and Parliamentary Liaison Officer:
By Alexandra Schwappach, IOL News"Enough is enough. I’m a human being”, “My body, my choice”, and “Change is possible” were some of the messages conveyed by placard-bearing sex workers who marched to the Bellville police station on Saturday.
The march, on International Sex Worker Rights Day, saw about 100 people gather to hand over a memorandum of grievances alleging abuse of sex workers by the police.
The march was one of five simultaneous national events, organised by the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) and Sisonke, the national sex workers movement. Others were in Johannesburg, Rustenburg, Louis Trichardt and East London.
The memorandum calls on the police to stop “targeting and publicly humiliating” sex workers, “harassing”, “beating”, “raping”, and illegally detaining or arresting them.
Also included in the memorandum were allegations police asked for sexual favours in exchange for not arresting sex workers, that sex workers were detained in inhuman conditions, that they were beaten and raped while in detention, and that those who were HIV-positive were denied access to treatment while in detention.
National co-ordinator of Sisonke, Kholi Buthelezi, told marchers at the start of the event that the police escorting them were not there to harm them, but to ensure their safety.
“Sometimes when sex workers see a police officer they get scared or angry,” she said. “We wanted them to know that these police officers were here to protect us.”
Sweat’s Tim Barnett said:
“The memorandum is meant to engage the police and ask them to work with sex workers, instead of hurting or abusing them.”
Nine years ago Barnett was part of a push in New Zealand that eventually went to parliament and saw prostitution decriminalised there. Since then, he said, crime and the number of sex workers on the streets had decreased there.
“For SA, the first step is getting the police to change their behaviour,” he said.
Zulu Zandile, who has been a sex worker for nine years, said they were fighting for recognition that sex work was “just like any other job”.
“Let us make a living to put food on the table, just like everybody else.” She hoped sex workers would be able to work hand in hand with police officers to stop the real crime – human trafficking.
[This news article was originally sourced from IOL News: Stop abusing us, sex workers tell cops]
By Nathan Adams, Eye Witness News
To mark International Sex Worker Rights Day, Cape Town sex workers are marching through the streets of Bellville.
Organised by rights group Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat), the crowd of mostly women, is calling for the decriminalisation of sex work.
Armed with placards and whistles, the group of sex workers, says they are harassed by police officers almost daily.
They say the criminalisation of sex work has forced them to live in fear.
They are voicing their concerns, but many sex workers are wearing masks to hide their identities.
One woman says she was stripped and forced into a police van.
The Bellville sex worker says she was kept in holding cells overnight, but never charged.
Her story and the concerns of many other sex workers has been summarised in a memorandum of grievances, which will be handed over to police, at the end of the march.
[This news article was originally sourced from Eye Witness News: Decriminalize sex work]
By Nathan Adams, Eye Witness News
Some Cape Town sex workers on Saturday said they were continuously harassed by police.
A group of sex workers marched through the streets of Bellville to mark International Sex Worker Rights Day.
The march was organised by Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) and the crowd called on government to decriminalise sex work.
One woman said life on the streets was tough.
“Police are harassing us. We are marching today because we want them to stop what they are doing. We want them to realise that we’re also human,” she said.
Another sex worker said police needlessly harass them.
“They hit us, rape us, and ask for sex favours from us,” she said.
[This news article was originally sourced from Eye Witness News: Sex workers accuse police of harassment]
'Stop harassing us! Tackle real crime!'- Sex workers and human rights activists shouted as they marched against the abuse of sex workers by police, in commemoration of International Sex Worker Rights Day (3rd March).
Photos of the Bellville Police Station march (Cape Town):
Photos of the Fleet Street Police Station march (East London), taken by Mickey Meji, SWEAT's Networking and Parliamentary Liaison Officer:
Photos of the Johannesburg Central Police Station march, taken by Hoosain Khan, of Wits University:
Sex workers, service providers and human rights advocates will be marching in 5 cities tomorrow to expose the abuse and injustice sex workers in South Africa experience at the hands of the police and criminal justice system. SWEAT - the sex worker rights organisation - and Sisonke- the national sex workers’ movement and partners organised the march to commemorate International Sex Worker Rights Day, celebrated annually on the 3rd of March.
The day was first celebrated in 2001 when over 25 000 sex workers gathered in India for a sex worker festival. Since then sex worker groups across the world have celebrated the 3rd of March as International Sex Worker Rights’ Day.
In a 2009-2010 research study conducted by the Women’s Legal Centre, out of 309 Cape Town based sex workers, 217 complained of police abuse, which means approximately 70% of sex workers experienced abuse at the hands of police, and *Sunshine (not her real name) was one of them:
“One night on my way to the shop a police van stopped beside me. They didn’t even ask questions. They forced me into the van, and I knocked my head. I had a big bump- very blue. They took me to Woodstock Police Station. They saw me as a new face on the road, and took me into a cell alone. Three police men were standing in a line, no name tags, no badges, nothing. Everyone had a condom in their hand and they raped me, one after each other”.
“We are calling for the decriminalisation of sex work because the current law forces us to live in fear of police who harass and abuse sex workers with impunity. We are being arrested and our rights are being violated for doing work that supports our families. But should sex work be decriminalised, then we would be able to work hand-in-hand with the police in combating crimes such as human trafficking”, said Kholi Buthelezi, Sisonke National Coordinator.
A prosecutor appearing at the Wynberg Magistrate Court today, to ensure the conviction of a mother of 2 for solicitation, blamed sex work for drugs and for violence against women, saying “deaths are being reported through various acts, also other offences such as rape are caused by crimes like this (soliciting for reward), women like the accused put the society at risk.” The magistrate also believed these myths about sex workers and sentenced the woman to 12 months in jail, suspended for 3 years.
Marchers tomorrow will be demanding that the Police meet with representatives of sex workers by the end of the month and adopt a new practice of dealing with sex work “I think this is a very reasonable request- if the police are interested in fighting real crimes like rape and murder, they should agree to meet with us” said Ms Buthelezi.
[For details of these marches, see the attachment below.]