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WETA Tuesday Hears Sex Work Industry Issues

While speaking during the WETA Tuesday talanoa session, the trans male, sex workers’ activist said though there had been a lot of positive changes seen on how sex workers were openly operating, discrimination was still an issue.
21 Jan 2021 12:50
WETA Tuesday Hears Sex Work Industry Issues
Seseini Naitala.

For 20 years, Seseini Naitala worked the streets of Suva. She traded her body for cash.

Her experience led to the creation of a safe haven for sex workers operating in the country.

She runs an office in Nabua, Suva.

Her line of work includes ensuring that sex workers have access to safe contraceptives, awareness of sexual and mental health and providing a voice on issues affecting sex workers.

While speaking during the WETA Tuesday talanoa session, the trans male, sex workers’ activist said though there had been a lot of positive changes seen on how sex workers were openly operating, discrimination was still an issue.

“We have different categories of sex work,” she said.

“For men I do have conversations on sex work where I do escort, I take men to the nightclubs and introduce them to the sex industry and also to the local community.

“I do physical sex work with women, women pay me for sex work and I have been in the field for more than 20 years.”

She said being a sex worker and a trans male in a conservative society was very difficult.

“Life was challenging, I have been discriminated against because of my sexual orientation and who I am.

“I am glad that in the recent years people have been educated to be very open minded.”

She said there was a lot of young sex workers, ranging from age 19 to 20, joining the industry now.

“Some 10 years ago in my time there were no young ones.

“In our time when a young person comes to join the sex workers community, we chase them. Nowadays we can’t stop them.”

She said these young people had a reason for joining the industry.

“When we hear their stories it’s sad because they have to put food on the table, they are coming from a struggling family, a broken family and there are just so many reasons.

“Even some were victims of domestic violence through a violent husband.

“Sex workers are not only females, transgender females are also sex workers. They risk their lives while doing this job.”

Ellana Kalounisiga

Ministry of Mums founder Ellana Kalounisiga while making her contribution at the talanoa session says sex workers are normal and beautiful human beings.

“They have just reached some very tough situations where they feel they don’t have a choice,” Ms Kalounisiga said.

“They have not had a very good upbringing.”

She said while making personal observations in the last 12 months since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, people with high end jobs in Fiji were involving themselves in sex work.

“I asked one of the girls who was beautifully intelligent and she said the fact was that she had three kids, and she had a job in a supermarket earning $2.70 an hour – that’s like $27 for 10 hours work, or she could earn the same in five minutes from oral sex.”

This, she said, was the reality on the ground.

She said she had learned the reality of what was happening in Fiji in the sex trade.

“In the last 12 to 18 months I got the privilege of meeting some individuals of which together we have been able to meet so many amazing people.”

Prostitution, however, is illegal in Fiji.

The Crimes Act states, “any person loitering in a public place for the purpose of offering himself or herself for sex in return for a payment of any nature, seeks the services of a prostitute in a public place, uses the services of a prostitute in a public place, makes arrangements with a prostitute or a person offering the services of a prostitute in order to use any communication whatsoever, or solicits for an immoral purpose by any communication whatsoever”, commits a summary offence.

The Act states that for first time offenders would be fined $500 and subsequent offenders a prison term of three months in jail, $1000 fine or both.

It is understood that prostitution is something that is hard to prove as there has to be evidence of exchange of money between the client and the sex worker for sexual services.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj


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