LEPHALALE — Police victimization of sex workers was a topic of discussion in a dialogue meeting between sex workers in Lephalale and Limpopo Health MEC, Dr. Phophi Ramathuba. Sex workers claim that they are victimized by police who use their power as law enforcers to harm the women. “Police pick us up from the streets and instead of taking us to the police station they take us to bushes and force themselves upon us without paying and sometimes they even take the money that we have made” said one worker.
“They even go as far as threatening our clients, by saying they will tell the clients families about their deeds.”
The dialogue session held by the department of Health at Palm Park Hotel on Monday, was for both parties to form a partnership so they can combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and TB and discuss challenges that sex workers face on a daily basis, for them to know the strategies of the health department amongst others.
Sex workers in Lephalale said that they are victimized by police, sometimes their clients and the public at large. The police take advantage of them and chase their clients away as they say that sex work is still a criminal offence.
“We are not stealing from anyone, we are just exchanging services and making a living to feed our families. We save many from rape as men use our services instead of raping” sex workers said.
The sex workers said that they need a mobile clinic and a special safe place for them to operate from, but Ramuthuba responded by saying that it would be discrimination to separate them but they will take up the matter with the Limpopo police Commissioner Fannie Masemola, the MEC of safety and security, added that they need to resolve the problem of nurses also victimising sex workers – this needs to be done through educating the nurses in understanding the sex workers and doing their work accordingly.
She also said that they need to have a representative in the newly formed Aids council within the Lephalale Municipality that discusses and takes action on their issues.
MEC Ramathuba pleaded with everyone who is sexually active to use a condom, and should they feel like something is wrong in their body they need to go the hospital or clinic – for they are their own doctors.
Lephalale SAPS Station Commander, Col. Daniel Ramakgakya said that it is highly unlikely that members of the police would act so irresponsibly. He added that in cases when they find sex workers, they take actions of charging them with public indecency and loitering.