Update: Victory against prostitution

"We aim to clean the streets of Middelburg from prostitution. Not by violence or threats, but by convincing these women that there is life after prostitution, and making it possible for them to leave."

Sinqobile Kingdom Empowerment Centre, a registered non-profit organisation, is taking a different approach in the fight against prostitution.

One that has delivered far better results than past incidents of violence, petitions and complaints to police.

Sinqobile means ‘We are victorious’ in isiZulu. Judging by the four girls who have willingly given up prostitution, Sinqobile might just be the victory concerned residents have been hoping for so long.

It is easy for the average law abiding Middelburg resident to view the scantily clad women lining the streets in central Middelburg as objects, provocative pieces of meat stripped of all humanity. The reality is, even though it seems fit to think that these women represent everything that is evil and unjust, they are human beings, often trapped in an industry not easy to escape out of.

You might not see metal, but the chains holding them prisoner are there.

Enter Sinqobile with the aptly named Faith Baba at the helm. Faith has been ministering to the girls in Klip Street since the beginning of 2015.

“I visit them at their house. We pray together, I bring them the gospel of Jesus. I remind them that if they ever want to leave, there is hope, and a place for them to go.”

Sinqobile has opened a 24 hour prayer centre in the heart of the sex-trade territory, in the Constancia Centre on the corner of Klip- and Cowen Ntuli Street.

“People warned us that it was not a good place to open a church because of all the prostitutes in the area. But I said that is exactly where we want to be, among them, not far away in a nicer part of town,” says Faith.

At the centre, someone is available for prayer anytime of the night or day.

“We sometimes have women walk in here at 02:00 in the morning, in their working clothes. They ask us to pray for them and then they leave.”

In response to the scourge of prostitution Sinqobile has initiated the Sex Workers Outreach Program (S.W.O.P).

“We aim to address the challenges, strategies and support systems needed to rehabilitate and reintegrate women and girls leaving the sex trade.”

To leave prostitution is no easy feat. These girls are often conditioned by pimps and clients to feel worthless.

They believe that there is no other way for them to stay alive and support themselves other than by using the only thing at their disposal, their bodies.

They are given drugs to help them stay awake and not feel the cold and the shame. They are often driven by the needs of their families and children to whom they send money and who seldom know how they generate income.

Four girls who willingly decided to leave prostitution are currently being supported by Sinqobile. They are staying in a place of safety.

“We keep them away from threats and temptation. They have a warm place to sleep and warm meals on a daily basis,” Faith says proudly.

A small income generation project aims to teach the girls to provide for their basic needs and sustain themselves without having to resort back to selling their bodies.

“These girls are excited about the small things, like being able to sleep through the night uninterrupted and to work during the day,” Faith says.

In order to help support these girls, and others who decide to follow suit, Sinqobile is asking the Middelburg community to reach out and donate things such as blankets, sheets, pillows, clothing (especially warm winter clothing), personal hygiene products, cleaning material, food and household appliances, furniture and financial support.

“This is an uphill battle, but my passion to help these girls are keeping me going. We are going to win this fight by getting the message out there that there is hope. If they want to leave there is hope.”

To get involved with Sinqobile and S.W.O.P. contact Faith on 013 246 2229 or 071 177 8386 or send a mail to faithbaba@gmail.com.

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