Sex workers speak out: Sex workers are living in fear for the safety of their jobs and their well being… find out why.

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Sex workers speak out

2/23/2010 2:19:08 PM

In the eyes of many, 2010 is a year for Africa. The 2010 World Cup will be the first in history hosted on the continent. From the time of the historic announcement of South Africa’s successful bid, many neighbouring countries have been working towards improving their infrastructure and making sure their citizens are ready to take advantage of the Cup’s economic opportunities.

Sex workers have not lagged behind in preparing to take their share of World Cup profits. However, this opportunity is likely to come with dangers of harassment, abuse and discrimination under the current legal framework in South Africa, which offers them little or no protection.

For Maria Mubanga,* the road to sex work was not an easy one. As a child, she never dreamt of becoming a sex worker. The death of her parents when she was 11 years old left her with the financial burden of looking after siblings and relatives. When a woman promised a job in a South African hotel, she was quick to pack her bags.

She only later discovered the “job” was selling her body, but said she felt forced to stay knowing her family depended on the income. It’s a job that comes with its own stigma and often puts those that ply the trade at risk of abuse, HIV and assault not just by clients but also by police.

Sisonke is an organisation providing life skills, HIV outreach and other services to sex workers. Sisonke’s Jacob Motsamai said that because sex work is currently illegal in South Africa, sex workers have little legal recourse to abuse by clients, police or brothel owners. The organisation is advocating for the decriminalisation of the industry in order to promote regulation that Motsamai said will benefit both sex workers and their clients.

“We want full decriminalisation of sex work,” he said. “It will mean that sex work will be recognised as work and that the sex workers will enjoy the protection of labour and occupational health laws.”

“At the moment, most sex workers are exploited by many, including journalists that come to get information from the sex workers and benefit out of it while sex workers do not benefit.” he added. “There are times when journalists come to interview the sex workers and get photographs with promises that they would disguise their voices or not use their full photos, but when the articles are published, the opposite happens.”

During a recent review of the law, sex workers organised to make submissions to the South African Law Reform Commission in support of decriminalisation. These submissions drew upon their experiences of the law, police and working conditions.

Motsamai said fear among the sex workers is growing as the World Cup approaches as they are scared police will crack down on sex workers to “clean up the cities,” putting them behind bars for the duration of the sporting event.

On the other hand, Babalwa Makawula, co-founder of another organisation reaching out to vulnerable and exploited women and girls, the New Life Centre, questions whether decriminalisation is a solution.

“I do not see how decriminalising sex work will help sex workers because I have difficulties in understanding who is going to help whom?” she asked. “When a sex worker is going for business in a room, she does not go there with her employer or someone who can protect her from abuse from her client.”

“Engaging in sex is not work in itself because when you are doing it, you do not feel okay. You have no pride in what you doing and there is no fulfilment,” Makawula argued. “When you are working, you must feel the passion that goes with that work. Sex work does not give that feeling to most women.” She advocated not for legalising sex work, but for prioritising the economic empowerment of sex workers through skill development in the run-up to the World Cup.

Marlise Richter, from the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics at Johannesburg’s University of Witwatersrand said sex workers have generally been overlooked in South Africa. According to Richter, the continued criminalisation of the industry continues to fuel the HIV epidemic and disregard sex workers’ human rights.

She adds that from the time the sex work reform process started in 1997 when the South African Law Reform Commission was charged with investigating sexual offences relating to children, the commission has not yet come up with the final solution to sex work reform. Instead, the commission has shied away from releasing draft legislation on the matter and opted to suggest four ways the law can approach sex work, namely total criminalisation, partial criminalisation, non-decriminalisation or decriminalisation, or regulation – each with a different meaning and impact on sex workers.

Meanwhile, discourse around the World Cup and sex work itself remains highly stigmatising, often painting sex workers as carriers of HIV, argued Richter, who called the argument short-sighted, moralistic and skewed by prejudice as it ignores the fact that both parties in sexual transactions should take responsibility for practicing safer sex.

“Ultimately, the World Cup and the current law reform process provide an important opportunity to recognise the rights of sex workers,” Richter said. She added that it is vital that human rights and women’s advocates, as well as the media, seize the strategic opening to promote understanding and insight into one of society’s most vulnerable and marginalised groups.

*Not her real name

Perpetual Sichikwenkwe is a writer from Zambia. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, produced during a “Business Unusual” workshop.

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Christopher Maloney is a quack – PZ Myers

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Christopher Maloney is a quack

Category: Skepticism

aloney is a naturopath in the state of Maine, where quacks like him get to call themselves “doctors”. These so-called “doctors” get to make recommendations like this, in which he disparages standard flu vaccines and suggests these useless prescriptions:

Parents waiting for vaccinations can provide their children with black elderberry, which blocks the H1N1 virus. A single garlic capsule daily cuts in half the incidence and the severity of a flu episode for children.

There’s another way you can tell he’s a quack. When a student, Michael Hawkins,dared to criticize him, pointing out that “Naturopathic medicine is pure bull” and stating that naturopaths are underqualified and do not deserve the title of “doctor,” Maloney took action to silence him. After all, we can’t have people questioningquacks — that just makes them look even more ridiculous, which could lead to a loss of business.

So Maloney complained to WordPress, where Hawkins blog was located, and got them to shut it down. This does not speak well of craven WordPress; if you’re using WordPress hosting, you might want to reconsider it and move elsewhere. You know, to someplace that respects reality.

Now not only is Maloney a quack, but he’s a stupid quack. Shutting down blogs that criticize him? That never, ever works. In fact, it tends to backfire rather severely — because now a much bigger blog is going to spread the word that Christopher Maloney is a quack. I’m also going to ask all of you out there who reads this to echo the message: Christopher Maloney is a quack. Won’t that be fun? Poke the net, and the net pushes back.

Share the message. Let the whole world know that Christopher Maloney is a cowardly quack.

He’s also tasteless. This is possibly the ugliest youtube video ever.

Posted by PZ Myers at 9:14 PM

‘God told me I’d be raped’

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‘God told me I’d be raped

2010-02-11 09:29

Neels Jackson

Pretoria – The wife of gospel singer Louis Brittz, who was raped by a robber on Monday night, has told how the Lord had warned her that she was to be raped.

A beaten-up Hettie Brittz told how the Lord had not left her alone and how she had felt her soul and spirit had been undamaged by the experience.

Despite her nightmare experience, which came after armed robbers overpowered her family in their home in a security complex in Centurion, she was still planning to swim the Midmar Mile this coming weekend.

She said she had been looking forward to it for a year and would not allow this incident to take away her enjoyment of life.

Robbery

Her husband was still working when the robbers stormed into their house on Monday evening. They took him to the bedroom where Hettie was already in bed.

In the room, Louis told her “in the name of Jesus” (and in English so that the robbers would understand), that the men would take their things but not hurt them.

They were forced to lie on the floor where Louis told Hettie that if this was the end, they would see each other again in heaven.

Later the robbers took him away. One stayed with Hettie where she lay with her hands tied, half under the bed.

She said while she was lying like this, she heard the Lord tell her: “Hettie, you are my bride”.

She answered: “Yes, Jesus, I know.”

She said the Lord then told her that the man would rape her but not hurt her. The rapist was also not violent.

Antiretroviral treatment

But the examination that she had to undergo in hospital afterwards was bad. She had to drink medication that made her very nauseous. She was also given anti-retroviral treatment to fight HIV infection.

But for her, these were “battle scars in a war which we can’t lose”.

Louis too saw the event as an attack in a spiritual war.

The Lord existed outside of time and space, said Hettie. What had happened to her now was relevant 2 000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross for the rapist too.

It will also be relevant in ten years’ time when they bear witness to all that has followed the attack.

She said this didn’t mean the rape was unimportant. It was also not unimportant to the Lord. He said after all that he collected people’s tears and that the blood of believers was precious to him.

She knew the Lord was not unfeeling. He had prepared her and she had felt him holding her undamaged soul and spirit despite what had happened to her body.

Not bitter

She said she knew people would say she was living in denial. She herself was a therapist, however, and knew what trauma involved.

She knew there would be times when she became angry but she suspected she would not become bitter. The Lord would protect her against it. Bitterness would do nothing to the rapist but would eat at her.

Both she and Louis felt sorry for the rapist. They thought he was pathetic. He probably had never experienced the love of a woman.

– Beeld