Ntombi Gaza (not her real name) believes sex work is increasingly becoming an accepted job among unemployed graduates and the student community as the aftermath of Covid-19 continues to snatch away breadwinners, causing untold harm to family structures.
The 23-year-old pharmacy graduate from Kwamashu in Durban tells opens up and said that unbearable circumstances forced her into the sex trade. Following the untimely death of her father due to Covid-19-related complications in July, Gaza felt obligated to step up and fill the financial void. He was the sole breadwinner in the family.
“I had to try all the tricks in the book to support my four siblings and my mother, who is wheelchair-bound. I completed a B Pharmacy degree in 2018 and I have been unemployed since.
“My father worked as a teacher and paid for my university studies. It broke my heart that he had to continue supporting me financially while I was job-hunting with no luck. He did so until his last breath,” she laments.
Gaza says she had met up with her campus friends who advised her that she should consider the sex profession as a solution to her financial woes.
Another student, 19, who did not want to be named for fear of being judged, says there are many establishments around the Durban city centre masquerading as beauty and massage parlours but offered sex services.
“In my case, I operate at a lodge and it is much safer. My services vary from pampering, massage and sex. I also charge a fee for attending special dinners and parties,” she says.
She adds that the job enables her to pay for her studies. She also sends some money home following the death of her mother to the virus in September.
The two say their families are not aware of their newly found occupations.
Non-profit organisation Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce says amid the tough economic climate and joblessness, sex work should be regarded as any other profession instead of being criminalised. “We wish to remind the president of his promise to look into the decriminalisation of sex work,” the organisation said in a statement.