The Women of Durban's Dockside
This article, "The Women of Durban's Dockside Sex Industry," looks at the lives of female prostitutes in Durban's dockside sex sector. They solicit at a nightclub catering to foreign sailors. The paper considers their experiences as sex workers and how they deal with stigmatization, family concerns, chemical abuse, moral dilemmas, diseases, and violence. It assesses their fears and frustrations. And it ponders their dreams and longings for what they hope to achieve through this work.
The article concludes with the idea that dockside women are relatively empowered compared to their streetwalking & brothel-working counterparts. Since most hail from upcountry locales, they successfully live "double lives" that protect them from family and communal reprisal. Since their clients are foreign transients, the men pose no threat to their identities (they have no social power outside the dockside world). Since the women solicit from a safe nightclub, they retain the right of refusal. And because they're the knowledgeable locals, they choose the location of sex, which enhances their power to insist on condom-use.
Ironically, these upcountry women are perhaps the most cosmopolitan citizens of Durban as they entertain dozens of nationalities every evening.
"The Women of Durban's Dockside Sex Industry" appears in Undressing Durban, a collection of essays edited by sociologists Rob Pattman & Sultan Khan at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. The book comprises a fascinating collection of 52 short essays by scholars and graduate students who are researching different aspects of Durban's social life. Many of the pieces deal with the shadowy and seamy side of the city.
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