Archive for September 2nd, 2009

September 2, 2009

Sex-workers in the Durban area – a helper speaks…

by Rod Smith

Rozanne Hay, Durban, South Africa / Guest Writer

Rozanne Hay, Durban, South Africa / Guest Writer

The afternoon Skills development is nearing an end. Zanele calls out, ‘Mama we have decided your surname is Mkhize…Sbongile Mkhize’ I smiled and turned to the counsellor who walked into the classroom.

‘Its pay day today…Wednesday 15th’ we must go out tonight. The girls from Jacobs have called, requesting a visit.

It’s 6pm. The notorious tavern opposite, is in full swing.

Our team set off towards Wentworth our first planned stop.

The roads are busy with truckers. We turn into the industrial estate and pass a lonesome Girl. Look at her face! a counsellor comments, It’s old, she’s had a hard life! We stop to talk. She’s cautious as more than 1 person per vehicle spells trouble. We reassure her and inform her of our programme. She is 14years old.

We stop alongside a group of young girls. Unexpectedly, a portly oriental man steps forward. The counsellor retreats. There is history between them.

Further long a group has gathered around cinders, while another attempts to light a flame with gathered industrial cardboard and woodshavings. We readily join them and launch into sex education and protection and our services offered. A crowd gathers as the Truckers park alongside the curb. Multipacks of condoms filter through the crowd and bulging pockets are visible. The camaraderie between punters and Girls ignites and our team moves on.

Nearing the car, a bantering couple stand in the shadows of a streetlamp. A vivacious 18month babygirl is in mother’s arms. Skill development and our services are of no interest, for her this is a career choice.

Travelling out of the industrial area, we briefly wait alongside a disused container. My car is recognised. Thoko appears and elaborates on winning her murder trial. Her intoxicated, deceased client had locked her in his car and joy rode the streets at terrifying speeds. She feared for her life and fired a warning shot from the rear seat, followed by the fatal shot. She assures us she will be returning to the programme.

Zodwa’s ‘boyfriend’calls and asked me to attend Mayville Police station now. She has been arrested for bottle stabbing another girl. This visit is scheduled for the morning and I sense the Charge Officer may not be lenient this time, its a gruesome attack.

Entering the Northern suburbs we park and set out in teams. Our first stop is with a preteen. When challenged on her reason for soliciting, she claims ‘to like nice things’. Unlike the majority, she has an intact home life. A condom pack was refused as she perceives that this is only required with the onset of menstruation.

Ahead, I recognise some of our Rehab girls. A number were out on business. The distant sight of a patrolling police van causes an instant scatter response, with due reason. The metro police are informed and updated regarding this outreach programme, yet the message fails to filter through. Having been on the receiving end of Metro Police aggression and accusations of soliciting under the disguise of an NGO, they are best avoided.

Before long the van passes and the Girls reappear. Client cars dawdle past at a death march pace seeking their prey. Girls run to cars, others hold back. This clients aggression is known to some.

Down the side alley a steady flow of cars enter the short term lodgings.

The police are seeking to arrest en mass until the visitors depart. The foreigners are in town for sport. They continue to patrol.

Sethle arrives and appears unresponsive. Relaying her traumatic ordeal, I silently wonder when these girls will realise 3 potential clients in a car are unlikely to equate to 3 customers!

Its 2am, we gather our teams, identify those for Trauma debriefing and counselling and schedule them for the morning. As we gather up Girls for Addington, another Girl known to me, approaches with a heavily pregnant teen. How can I help her, she doesn’t want this baby. Another talks about her premature baby she hasn’t collected from hospital. He’s 4months old. Visiting is too difficult as this baby too may die at year, of malnutrition or other.

En route to Addington Hospital, a glue sniffing child enters into conversation. He too, identifies with the Girls, previously rural children, failed by their communities. They all have found a sisterhood/brotherhood and a sense of belonging on the streets.

September 2, 2009

Line in the sand…

by Rod Smith

Draw lines carefully...

Draw lines carefully...

Relationships can deteriorate very quickly – and one of the two persons might feel the need to set limits or draw a “line in the sand.”

While this is often necessary, there are a few things to consider:

1. Idle threats are ineffective. If you don’t mean it, or cannot act upon it, your stand will be fruitless and your credibility will be minimized. It will make self definition much harder to achieve the next time.

2. You might not get what you want. If winning is your only option you might want to think things through a little more.

3. Don’t proclaim your stand, set limits, declare boundaries when you are angry or upset or under the influence of absolutely anything. Wait until you are calm. Have your limits well rehearsed. Your partner will expect you to behave as you have always behaved. He or she knows every trick in your book to get (from you) the kinds of responses to which you are both accustomed.

4. Don’t take a strong stand on matters not worthy of the energy. Some things are really unimportant and are just not worth the effort.

September 2, 2009

My boss and I have a special relationship…..

by Rod Smith

Take up your life

Take up your life

I am struck by the frequency of letters I receive with a common theme. It goes like this.

“I have a ‘special relationship’ with my boss. He relies on me more than he does on his wife. I know more than she does about his life, business, and finances. It is totally non-sexual. It is because it is not sexual that we CAN talk about anything. He pays me less than he should but I understand. One day he will make it up when things improve. I get jealous about where he spends his time. If he wants a friend, I am his friend. When he wants to be the boss you’d think we were almost strangers. This hurts but I can’t tell him because them I sound like his wife. I can’t leave. I know too much about the business and he needs me. Yet, I am too emotionally attached. Pleas help.”

Bailing out and letting the chips fall where they may is the only option. While the boss requires a course in growing up, the employee ought to learn to get her emotional needs met outside of the workplace. Both are at fault – but the boss, being the one with the power, is responsible for the (mis)shape of the relationship.