Preview ‘Izwi Lethu: Our Voice’ Issue 17

Izwi Lethu: Our Voice is a newsletter by sex workers for sex workers. Since 2015, the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) and the Sisonke National Sex Workers Movement have worked together to produce 16 issues of Izwi Lethu. As a maHp sub-project, Izwi Lethu helps migrant sex workers gain skills as reporters through creative writing workshops to better share their own stories and those of their community. Below you find a preview of Issue 17, an excerpt of reporter Ziyanda’s text ‘Sex Work on Crutches’, which will be published online soon. You can read previous issues of Izwi Lethu and an e-book about the process on the maHp website.

Sex Work on Crutches
By Ziyanda, Reporter

It was in February in 2015 around 7:00 p.m., and Anna was on her way to Orange Grove where she was doing her sex working business. She was desperate for money and decided to go back to the street. She had been a sex worker before she married a white guy. They stayed together for nine years until she caught him with another sex worker. When she got angry, he kicked her out. She had to find her own place and go back to sex work to pay rent. On that day when she was crossing at the intersection, a car hit her and a taxi followed to hit her as well. The two vehicles tried to flee the scene. The taxi driver managed to get away, but the small car was caught by the police. The lady in the car that hit Anna came out and checked on her. The paramedics came and took her to the hospital.

The next day, she had an operation. She was kept at the hospital for two weeks. After that she went back to her place where she was paying her rent. The landlord welcomed her, and she allowed her to stay for a month. After a month, the landlord said Anna must go because she wanted money for the rent. But Anna still had a plaster cast on her leg and was still using crutches. Anna had no choice but to go back to the street. First day, it was difficult because it was winter and cold. She did not get a cent. As time went on, she made herself some money, and some of the clients gave her money without doing business because they felt pity for her.

One night a client chose her and went with her to the park. The client said they must go outside and do the business. She took her crutches and followed him into the park to do business. When they were done, the client got dressed quickly, took her crutches, and threw them far from her. Then he started the car and drove off, leaving Anna behind. She crawled in the dark searching for her crutches for more than an hour. It took her another hour to limp back to her street corner. Then she took transport and went back to her place. But she carried on working. After one year, the doctor removed her plaster, and she no longer needed the crutches. Now she is working properly even though she is 56 years old.


About Greta Schuler

Greta Schuler is a PhD candidate in creative writing and a doctoral fellow at the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS). Her dissertation focuses on the lives of migrant sex workers in Johannesburg.

With ACMS’s MoVE project, Greta is facilitating creative writing workshops with sex workers and running the Gauteng sex worker newsletter, Izwi Lethu: Our Voice. Greta’s short stories and essays have appeared in various literary journals, including Creative Nonfiction, the Crab Orchard Review, and PANK (online). She holds an MA in Forced Migration from the University of the Witwatersrand and an MFA in Creative Writing from American University, Washington, DC.