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!


  1. Eye opening. I wonder, what can we, a people, society and country, do to change the narrative for our beautiful, worth-more-than-this African daughters?