EDITOR – Ward 27 Councillor, Martin Meyer, (Berea Mail, 26 January 2018) deserves the whole community’s support in his drive to see the scourge of prostitution removed from the streets of Morningside.
One point he made calls for comment, however, he is quoted as saying that sex workers should be encouraged “to move elsewhere,” a matter of “out of sight and so the problem no longer exists.” We then become complicit in perpetuating the problem. The whole community needs to be mobilised to deal with the root causes of prostitution rather than merely having the manifestations of the problem moved to the other side of the city. That would only result in effectively sweeping the problem under some other community’s carpet.
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The mountainous challenge which, by some reports, could involve as many as 100 000 women in our country, is multi-layered. Simply urging the women trapped in this ugly industry to ply their trade in another neighbourhood will not start to tackle the deeper issues they are battling with. The same issues of poor self-image, abuse and violence, addiction, raising children in very dysfunctional environments, dealing with health and educational problems, and much more besides, will continue to fester, only in another area as far as possible from Morningside.
Prostitution is the exploitation of vulnerability: some of the ladies are forced by financial privation to exploit themselves to put bread on their families’ tables, whilst others are ensnared by their victimisers and believe there is no escape.
While the police need support to see the law take its course, arrests and court cases can never address some of the critical issues involved in prostitution. Sex workers desperately need escape routes and compassion, whether they acknowledge it or not. A number of organisations in Durban exist to reach out to the victims of human-trafficking to see the women rescued from the trap in which they are caught, to restore a sense of their worth and dignity, to equip them to deal with their many issues and to acquire skills and training so that they can be released into the community to follow sustainable employment opportunities.
The Domino Foundation’s Red Light Programme is one such outreach to the victims of human-trafficking and welcomes enquiries at [email protected] More information can be found on The Domino Foundation’s website (http://www.dominofoundation.org.za/red-light/). Red Light is keen to work with Councillor Meyer, the authorities and other anti-human-trafficking groups to weaken the grip of the purveyors of human beings in our city and to provide opportunities for healing and restoration to their victims.
As long as our communities remain wilfully oblivious and ignorant of the complexity of the human-trafficking that is happening on the streets of Durban, hoping that, by shunting its more “public” face to another neighbourhood, we are absolved of our collective responsibility to take on the radical causes of the sexual exploitation we see, our negligence does not solve the problem but exacerbates it.
Leader, The Domino Foundation’s Red Light Programme
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