Tuesday 15 March 2022

Selling Sex in South Africa


Walking down a street in a place called Springs, located in the East Rand of Johannesburg.  On the corners are multiple women selling their bodies.  I stop and talk to some of the ladies as I always do, listening to their stories, asking if I can help or pray with them.  Some of the ladies are addicted to drugs and are selling their bodies to sustain their drug habit.  Their bodies are thin, tired and malnourished.  Some are hungry because they used their money for their drug fix.  I asked them where they were from and how they got to Springs.  Some ladies are from small rural towns in South Africa and many from neighbouring countries. 

I see a young lady standing on another street and I walk up to her.  She is dressed provocatively and she agrees that she is waiting for clients.  She tells me that she is 20 years old and her child and family are living in Nelspruit and her sister told her to come work here because she had to get money.  Did this lady choose to sell her body or did the family put pressure on her to bring money home?  Did the family force her to sell her body telling her there is no other way?   I look into her eyes and I see the fear and shame.  She does not want to expose her family for forcing her to do this because as a mother she understands that her baby needs food.  She is beautiful, well-spoken and she presents as very intelligent.  She has even completed school.  If selling sex was illegal and the police prosecuted it successfully, this young lady would have not been there that day.  The nonexisting prosecution of the law of buying and selling sex has made it easy for women to see prostitution even as an option. No woman should have to sell her body to feed her child.  The reality for her to go back into her community with the silent title around her neck of a prostitute, ‘magosha’ or a whore is too much to handle at this point.  The shame that could have spared her soul.  Prostitution is something she needs to do in secret because she does not want to shame her community or possibly her future husband.  I ask to pray for her and she says yes, please.  I ask God to open doors of provision and protection around her.  The protection I prayed for because I know that most of these ladies have experienced rape and abuse from clients. While praying for her the brothel’s 'madam' that is managing the money comes close to see what I was doing. The 'madam' is making sure I am not interfering with the business because if the business is bad, girls leave and the money disappears then the pimp will probably beat her up tonight.  Tears run down Lerato’s beautiful face and she says to me that she is going to phone her sister and ask her if she can please come home that weekend.  

I walk up to another lady.  The eyes of the pimps, ‘drug spotters’ and managers are on me trying to see what I am doing. One pimp walks past while filming me with his phone, sending the information to the big boss.  The area seems very controlled.  I speak to a lady from Zimbabwe asking her why she is doing prostitution.  Most of the ladies on the street are from Zimbabwe.  She says that her family needs money.  Her family does not know what she does and she feels ashamed.  She got into the country illegally and she does not have documentation.  I wonder to myself that if sex buyers were prosecuted and the demand was less, will she be standing here filled with shame.  Sadness fills my heart because our South African borders should be monitored and South Africa should not be an open invitation to foreign women believing that selling sex with not destroy their dignity and womanhood.  Do these women actually make money to send home?  Is the money worth selling your body but inside your soul is trapped in pain, agony and shame?  Your body is beautiful, you are worthy, you are loved and your body should not be for sale giving temporary pleasure to a man and then only receiving between R50-R150. Are you only worth R50? No, Jesus paid for your life so that you can walk free beautiful girl!

Sunday 12 September 2021

The Gospel of Grace to a Pimp

Can God save a pimp?  I was confronted with the Gospel of Jesus and the ability to save a life from eternal damnation if that person chooses to receive the gift of salvation Jesus is offering.  The Gospel of Jesus is sometimes challenging to me and raises many questions deep within when I am faced with a dark, cruel, evil world.  

Recently I walked into another brothel where a lady escape from the cruel hands of a pimp.  These pimps will manage the money, force the ladies to do sex work, beat them up to punish them for bad behaviour if customers are not satisfied, move them around from one brothel to the next, restrict their movement so that they can not leave the property, psychologically entrap them with lies, threats and manipulation, restrict them to go to the shop or even get medical care.  They are forced to take illegal substances with the clients and they never see any money because the 'rape' and sex work they face every day is supposed to pay for their food and housing.  These pimps commit fraud on her name, renting property on her name, taking identification documents, selling and buying cars on her name, taking her to the bank to open accounts on her name and some women find out they are married to foreign men that are pimps without them ever agreeing to this.  Scars are left on their bodies from the beating and abuse.  I am confronted with the Gospel of Jesus...

Standing in front of the pimp asking him about his life, him denying everything we are putting on the table.  At this point, he will not confess his sin for it will assure lifelong imprisonment for him.  My question to him was this... if you die... and you stand in front of God... what then?  This life is like the wind, it is here now and then it is gone.  Where is your money, where are your women, where is your gangster friends, where is your family, where is your power, where is your business?  It is all gone and you will stand alone in front of the God of the universe to answer to Him.  

I get angry through my entire being when I see the trauma and pain in the eyes of the victims.  I understand why God hates sin, I understand the fight for justice and that God is fair and I ask myself, can I bring the Gospel of Jesus to this man in front of me?  Is the forgiveness of Jesus for Him or has God given him over to his sinful lifestyle?  What do I choose, do I leave him to die in his sins or do I present him with the message of forgiveness, love and grace?  For it is easy to bring the Gospel of Jesus to a good person but I am confronted with the Bible where it says that a doctor is there for sick people, not healthy ones, so Jesus came for sick people, not healthy ones, and yet this man in front of me is sick, sick in his head, his body in need of forgiveness (Mark 2:17).  I am confronted with the murderer on the cross next to Jesus requesting mercy for his soul (Mark 23).  The man in front of me is a liar, a cheat, a rapist, an abuser, a fraudster and the list goes on.  Why does he need a chance of forgiveness?  Who am I to decide who God can save or not,  I can only show Brave Love to which I am called, and this might have been the bravest love for me to love the sinner?  

Finally, I get down on my knees to where this man is sitting on the floor.  Next to him, a prostitute that looks like her system can not take another drug hit.  "Sir, this house is a brothel, you know what is going on here and maybe the police is arresting you tonight and maybe not but the big question is not whether you are going to prison tonight or not.  The big question is when you die, where will you be for eternity, because right now your life is filled with darkness, evil and sadness. "  He answers me with words of blessings, saying bless you, bless you... and I answer.  "My brother, it does not help you bless me because I am not going to stand next to you in front of God one day when He asks you about your life, you will stand alone in front of Him and I can not vindicate for you but there is One that can and that is Jesus, for He is the only one that can stand in the gap from you not receiving eternal punishment for what you have done.  Jesus has paid an expensive price for your life, He paid with blood so that you can receive grace, forgiveness and be adopted as his son.  Leave this life of death and follow Him and never turn back again."

I am grateful for the grace God has shown me and the honour it is to bring life and light into darkness. 

He can certainly rescue you if He can reach out a hand of grace to a pimp.

Emma van der Walt

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