Ex-sex worker tells of realities of trade

A sex worker on the streets of Suva. Picture: ATU RASEA/FT FILE

There are a lot of young sex workers in the industry now, says activist Seseini Naitala.

She made the comment during a talanoa session about the realities of sex workers, drug use and survival in Fiji.

With 10 years experience working with sex workers in communities, Ms Naitala said during her time as a sex worker, there were no young sex workers.

“For the older ones, when the young ones come, we always chase them,” she said.

She also said the younger ones were chased because they were underaged. “Nowadays, we can’t stop them because we believe they have reasons as to why they are in the industry.

“There are so many reasons when you hear their stories, it is sad because they have to put food on the table, they are coming from a broken family or a struggling family.

There are so many reasons. “Some are married, they have domestic violence abuse and all types of abuse.

There are not only females but there are transgender sex workers, these are the people who face stigma and discrimination so they risk their lives doing this work.”

Ms Naitala said it was important to decriminalise sex work in the country for health reasons. “If you look at the transmission of HIV and drugs, it comes through a syringe.

For sex work, this is one of the major issues where they do drugs to take away the fears of exposing themselves as sex workers.”

She said for young sex workers, they had the guts to go out and do their business in the streets, despite facing stigma and discrimination.

“Before, it was very hard, we hid ourselves because of the taboo and people in the society always call us names.”

Ms Naitala said despite being discriminated against, sex workers would not care because they were intoxicated with drugs.

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