Sex workers and strippers going online to stay afloat during lockdown

Sex workers are being encouraged to work online as business drops during the coronavirus pandemic, and will be impacted even more during the national lockdown.
Sex workers are being encouraged to work online as business drops during the coronavirus pandemic, and will be impacted even more during the national lockdown.
Image: Anthony Moleneux

Their work involves lots of touching, and social distancing isn't possible. During the time of Covid-19, business is down for sex workers and strippers.

With the national lockdown imminent, making a living will become even more difficult.

As the number of Covid-19 positive cases continue to soar, with Gauteng taking the lead, sex workers and strippers are losing business.

Sisonke, a movement formed by sex workers and for sex workers, according to its website, has encouraged sex workers to work online as business continues to drop.

Sisonke's Gauteng spokesperson, Katlego Rasebetse, said because the national lockdown would hurt business, working online was the safest option.

“Now that there is a crisis in the country, sex workers are safer working online. We advise sex workers to try to go online for now. They can communicate with their clients online without having any physical contact,” he said.

Mduduzi Zwane, who strips for a living, is one of those hard hit by the spread of the virus and the impending lockdown. 

The 26-year-old said the pandemic had affected him severely, and he fears the worst is yet to come.  

“Our work has to do with contact and interacting with clients, so the shutdown will affect us badly. Coronavirus has been affecting me, and it is now going to get worse with the national shutdown,” he said.

He said when the coronavirus started spreading in the country, some people cancelled and postponed bookings. 

Zwane, whose stage name is Cadbury Hunk, said his confirmed bookings had either been cancelled or postponed.

“Already our gigs are cancelled because we are dealing with clubs so most people have postponed until this issue [coronavirus] is dealt with. We will go an entire month with no money coming in,” he said.

Zwane said during the lockdown, he will try to move his services online.

“Most of us are trying to go online and use the live web. I think this will work for the time being. But I will have to register online. I don’t have any other means of making money. If I am not stripping I am doing massage,” Zwane said. 

He said he was about to try “the house call” idea when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the national lockdown.

“I wanted to try to push with house calls but now I can’t do that.

Zwane said Sisonke and the African Sex Workers Alliance (Aswa) has taken precautionary measures by providing sex workers with safety kits to protect themselves.

Rasebetse said the national lockdown will have a bad effect on sex workers.

“Most sex workers depend on this work. Now that there will be a national lockdown and movement of people will be severely restricted, we are going to see lots of them kicked out of brothels because they can't pay rent. We are now going to have sex workers who are street-based because brothels are among the businesses that have to shut down,” Rasebetse said.

He said Sisonke and Aswa had developed guidelines for sex workers to avoid coronavirus infection.

“Guidelines included that they must avoid kissing and wear a mask, and find creative ways to entertain the client rather than using the missionary position,”  he said.

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