A great number of thigh vendors who spoke to South Africa Latest News and sell their honey jars in Hillbrow have vowed to celebrate the imminent landslide ruling by dishing out free s3x to all male ANC supporters once the proposal has been turned into law.

“This is certainly good news to all of us (prostitutes). SAPS and Metro police are terrorising us whenever they find us selling s3x in town. Why can’t we be like Zimbabwe. It’s only that Zim is facing serious economic challenges, but any hooker can easily link up with a client and have s3x without any harassment,” said a Zimbabwean-born self-confessed prostitute, Rumbidzai Moyo, who literally collects her own lobola everyday from any man who pokes her and operates her s_ex-smith business in Hillbrow.

The ruling ANC resolved, at its elective conference last week, to decriminalise s_ex work. Pammy advertises her services on the internet and works from a hotel.

“Sometimes when these police arrest s_ex workers, they rob us of our money or demand s_exual favours in exchange for our freedom. They hold you ransom for a whole night. If we can practice legally, they won’t have a hold over us,” she said.

Prostitutes can look forward to less abuse by police if the proposal becomes law. Partial decriminalisation, which the ruling ANC discussed at its recent elective conference, protects the worker but not their clients or their pimps. It is an approach gaining support around the world because it addresses the demand and provides support for exiting prostitution, according to the anti-s_exual exploitation NGO, Embrace Dignity.

Former deputy health minister and gender activist, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, now executive director of Embrace Dignity, has empathy for the likes of Pammy. Madlala-Routledge believes police need to be authorised to act with understanding when dealing with s_ex worker issues, while the laws take time to change.

“We need clear direction from the Minister of Police. What we hope he can do is to authorise police to act with understanding. Madlala-Routledge stressed that female s_ex workers were the easiest to identify in s_ex trading. “They hardly ever arrest the buyers.”

She said police needed to understand that many s_ex workers were pushed into the situations they were in, that female unemployment was higher than it was for males, as was the school drop-out rate. “Often there is no family support.”

She stressed that without such action from the police, injustice would continue. However, Pammy – not her real name – foresees problems ahead, even if the law changes. If it is police who will be enforcing the law, they will find a way to override it.

“Girls who work under pimps will continue to suffer because the pimps take the lion’s share of their wages,” she said.

Pammy suggested that partially decriminalising the trade might help eliminate or minimise the number of underage girls being forced into the trade, as well as those who go into prostitution to finance extravagant lifestyles. Pammy, who speaks polished English, is a single mother of two with a human resources qualification and law work on her CV – desperate to make ends meet after losing her job and finding herself in debt, losing her home and car. She said she had only two options.

“I had to choose between committing suicide or compromising my dignity and going into prostitution. I chose to go into survival mode, for my kids and for my sanity,” she explained.

She said she hoped to avoid running into anyone who knew her before her downfall, and to protect her dignity and that of her kids. She said her kids were oblivious to her career. Madlala-Routledge also said it would be important for society to discuss, understand and respond to the issue.

“The ANC needs to sustain this. Next year, 2018, just before the 2019 election, the ANC would have to speak out about this to show their seriousness.”
Ways used around the world to tackle demand include increasing the arrest of buyers.