d ecriminalise our trade
SEX workers from across the country have called for the decriminalisation of their trade and the creation of a safer working environment ahead of the Fifa 2010 World Cup.
This, the workers say, will ensure they increase their fees during 2010. They also fear they will encounter stiff competition from "outsiders" and organised criminals during the soccer spectacle.
They also plan to dump the rand in favour of the US dollar when they target foreign fans and tourists.
Worker representatives spoke out yesterday at a high-profile forum in Cape Town organised by the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat).
Concerns were raised that the country could run out of condoms during the soccer competition, would be a huge blow to the fight against Aids.
The forum was dubbed Consultation on Sex Work and the 2010 Soccer World Cup: Human Rights, Public Health, Soccer and Beyond, and was attended by numerous local stakeholders and others from countries such as Germany, New Zealand and Ghana, who called for the decriminalisation of the industry.
Some of the major concerns raised by the workers included increased police harassment and abuse ahead of the tournament. They also cited increased threats by police to arrest them for the duration of the competition.
A sex worker from Cape Town, who declined to be named, said the trade should be decriminalised "because people are dying".
She predicted a rise in human and child trafficking, gangsterism, robberies and taking advantage of sex workers.
A Johannesburg worker who also did not want to be named said "the Bill of Rights allows us to do the job we want".
She said that "if the buyer keeps buying, we will keep selling. The government said the World Cup would benefit all of us. We all want to be rich. We want to treat our clients from abroad with dignity so that they will come back again".
A worker representing migrants said they were at the mercy of the police because of a lack of documentation. She said the police were robbing them of their wages, as they could not open bank accounts.
Zanele Mthembu, from the South African National Aids Council, Sports and Entertainment sector - who was bombarded with questions by the forum delegates - said she believed the government had enough condoms for the duration of the competition.
Bernard Dzomeku from Ghana's West Africa Program to Combat Aids (WAPCAP) said there should be a "conscious effort" to ensure enough condoms and lubricating gel were available.
Dzomeku, who drew lessons from Ghana's 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, said there should be a variety of condoms since some clients refuse government-issued condoms. He said they should not only be distributed to sex workers but also to their clients and other hots pots.