Sex workers fear missing the party

Wed May 19, 2010 8:21pm EDT
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By Agnieszka Flak

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Like other Johannesburg prostitutes, Zandile dreamed of getting rich from World Cup fans.

Now she complains that foreigners will be scared off by fear of AIDS and crime and there will be no World Cup bonanza.

South Africa has the world's biggest HIV caseload, with 5.7 million cases, and foreign fans have been repeatedly warned in their home countries about the dangers of casual sex.

Last year, some officials warned that 40,000 sex workers would invade this country from around Africa, but with the tournament only weeks away, the reality looks very different.

"It's great that the World Cup will be held here... I just wish we could have a bit of the pie," said Zandile, who works the streets of Sandton, one of Johannesburg's richest suburbs and a glitzy hub for entertainment and business.

Zandile and her colleagues fear the refusal of authorities to create safe areas for prostitution during the tournament will make it nearly impossible to attract clients.

"Foreigners and tourists don't like to look for the girls on the streets," said Mudiwa, a sex worker from Zimbabwe.

"The government needs to create a safe space for us, so that the customers know where to find us. When you get into a car, you never know if you'll be able to see your child again."   Continued...

<p>Sex workers demonstrate outside the Supreme Court in Cape Town May 3, 2009. Sex workers fear a predicted World Cup bonanza will not materialise, with visiting fans scared off by AIDS, safety concerns and a law that criminalises soliciting money for sex. Picture taken May 3, 2009. To match Feature SOCCER-WORLD/SEX REUTERS/Mike Hutchings</p>