Is mum a call girl?
Can a prostitute be a good mother? Sipho questions his own assumptions.
I always see Jane (not her real name) happy with her young daughter who is around 5. She lives in my neighbourhood and is one of those everyday people who I casually greet and engage in small talk with. Her child is a well-adjusted and intelligent child who is full of energy.

At first, Jane struck me as a devoted mother who is trying to make sure her child has the best of opportunities in life.

For years, I’ve wondered how she makes a living because she’s a stay-at-home, unemployed single mum.

‘I’m a consultant,’ Jane told me when I casually I asked about her job.

However, when I asked more questions about her consultancy work her answers were evasive. I didn’t pursue the issue further.

Some time ago, while taking a walk in another part of the neighbourhood I saw Jane being picked up by a man in a car. Her non-verbal communication ignited the suspicion in me that she worked as a prostitute.

She looked different from the everyday Jane I knew. The determination on her face was mingled with desperation. It was the first time I saw her light a cigarette as the car drove away. She gave the impression she didn’t want to be seen getting into that car.

Too many men friends?

The scene reminded me of the first time I suspected she was a call girl when I saw a couple of strange men leave her place. Back then I’d quickly discarded the suspicions as far fetched.

As a rule Jane’s male friends rarely drop her by her gate or visit her place.  Rather, she meets them at place away from her home. They drop her off a few blocks away and then she walks home.

Maybe my suspicions are unfounded. I know that it’s really none of my business what Jane does in her private life but a few questions cropped in my mind.

If you suspected your neighbour of being a prostitute would your perception of her as a good mother change? Does her choice of career make her somehow an unfit mother and would you allow your children to go and play at the woman’s house?

Would the parents who trust Jane with their children in her home still give her access to their young ones if they suspected the type of consultancy work that she does? Is her choice of employment a show of her lack of judgment or is she just trying to take care of her daughter the best way she can?

One thing is certain though:  if the mothers who I see talking freely to Jane suspected her of being a call girl they’d certainly not want her anywhere near their children's fathers.

Read more by Sipho Yanano

What would cause you to change your perception of someone as a parent?

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