Carrying a badge and wearing a uniform have not
stopped Kuruman police from allegedly threatening sex workers in an attempt to
coerce sex workers to provide their services for free, according to Northern
Cape Provincial AIDS Council Chairperson Beau Nkaelang.
Nkaelang was speaking at a recent educational open day
for sex workers in Kuruman, Northern Cape.
He added that sex workers were not the only ones who could benefit from an
education in HIV prevention and human rights.
According to Nkaelang, sex workers’ clients remain
nameless faces that are often left out of education and awareness campaigns
despite the power they wield.
“Some (clients) take advantage and use their masculinity
to avoid paying for services and sometimes drive away with the money,” he said.
“Amongst the clients, some of them are people in power such as police officials
who allegedly threaten sex workers to give them free services - some do this
even in their uniforms.”
South African Police Services’ Kuruman police station has
said that no such formal charges have been laid against officers at the
Samuel Herman is a programme coordinator with the
national Red Umbrella Programme sex worker project, which is currently using
peer educators to help reach out to sex workers and teens in danger, and
“We encourage sex workers to take responsibility and
to know how to defend themselves,” Herman said. “We encourage them to go in
groups in the field in order to help each other in capturing car registration
numbers because some clients take advantage and don’t want to pay after the
“We actually encourage them to request cash first,
service last,” said Herman, who added that he was also aware of Kuruman teens
who were being sexually exploited in return for money, drugs or alcohol.
“Our strategy is to empower sex workers themselves but,
because many face rejection because they have family and friends living in and
around Kuruman ,they don’t always want to be seen getting this help,” he added
“We support the programme because we believe that we cannot beat /fight HIV
when we don’t include (them).”
A recent study by the South African National AIDS
Council estimated that 153,000 sex workers were active in South Africa. The
study is aimed at helping the South African National AIDS Council roll out a
national HIV prevention and treatment programme for sex workers.
2014 study published in the international medical journal The Lancet estimated
that at least six percent of all new HIV infections in the country are linked
to sex work.
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