Covid-19 endangering sex workers in SA

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Tulani Ngwenya

Sex workers continue to suffer loss of income and increasing discrimination, harassment, and violence due to Covid-19 restrictions according to the Global Network for Sex Work Projects.

Often illegal, sex for money in Johannesburg is readily accessible and cheap.

Both male and female migrants operate in areas such as Hillbrow, in Johannesburg and other places. Although the trade is dangerous and exposes sex workers to vices such as drugs and even murder, most feel they have no other option.

But Covid-19 in South Africa is making their working conditions even worse with reduced earnings and loss of clients.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on 11 January announced new lockdown restrictions that include the banning of alcohol to curb Covid-19 and this has negatively affected the lives of sex workers who normally work from nightclubs.

Andile (not her real name), a sex worker who has operated in Hillbrow for several years said her income has drastically gone down.

Before the lockdown, Andile earned anything from R500 to R1000 per night but she now barely makes R200 per night. This is making it difficult for her to pay her bills and feed herself.

“Each time I make a little money is now a victory because sometimes you can work and never get paid or be beaten up and dumped in the bush. It is now extremely difficult to make a living on sex work in South Africa especially for some like me who stand on the streets. I am even thinking of going online as other girls are

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