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Sex worker mom speaks out
What goes through the mind of a mom forced to become a sex worker?
Sometimes as a single mother the worst thing to happen is not being able to provide for your kids’ needs. Joyce, 45, a sex worker mom went to the street corners in order to provide for her kids and can now puts food on the table. She explains how it all started.

What led you to be a sex-worker?

I was married with 5 kids and my ex- husband abused me emotionally and physically. I had no option but to take my kids and leave him in the Eastern Cape. He was an alcoholic and would start arguments in front of the children and I did not want my children to grow up in that environment and I left him. I have a stab wound on my back from him, I had to leave.

Did you try looking for a job other than being a sex-worker?

I went to Cape Town with my kids and we went to stay with my sister. One day she told me to come to work with her and when I got to this place there were ladies wearing very short skirts and I was confused. My sister told me that this is how things are done in Cape Town in order to survive. Within a few minutes  a car stopped by and asked for me. My sister said I should go in and sleep with that man to make money as she was no longer able to take care of me and my five children. She did not explain much to me as she was also getting into another car. She threw a condom at me and advised me to use it.

How did you feel afterwards as this was your first time?

I was feeling sad and told myself that I was not going to do it again. I was not used to sleeping with someone who did not love me. I got good pay though and was able to buy food and clothes for my children, something I had not been able to do in a long time.

What kind of clients do you get?

Some are married, family men. It is not about sex all the time, sometimes they get to share their frustrations with their wives at home and I advise them. One guy came back to thank me the other day for saving his marriage.

Are you able to a normal, loving mother given the circumstances you work under?

I want to provide for my children and I am doing that, they are going to school and there is food on the table. I was once raped by four men and that was the worst time for me because I could not report the rape to the police being a sex worker. That affected me and I got depressed. I used to get home and sleep and my kids suffered, I was unable to take care of them but have since recovered from the depression.

Do your kids know that you are a sex-worker?

They do not know and I do not want them to know. I told them that I am working at a restaurant. I told my siblings and mother. I told them because being a sex worker is not a safe job and wanted them to know should something bad happen to me at least they know the kind of work I was doing.

Are you looking for a full time job other than being a sex-worker?

Yes, I would love to work in a restaurant or get a cleaning job because this is not the life but I have no choice at the moment. I am also working as a coordinator helping sex workers know their rights but there are times when the money is not enough and to make ends meet I go to the streets. I am working hard so that my daughters do not have to do what I am doing. I have also managed to extend my house and buy furniture through this work. Some of my kids attend schools in the suburbs, I am doing this for my kids, I want a better life for them.

Read more by Masanda Peter

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