Survival of the fittest, is a mechanism of survival for these women who need to earn a living by degrading themselves.
They are paid for sex and often judged by society for what they do to earn a living, moreso because their trade is against the law in Lesotho.
With the novel Corona virus in play, sex workers have been pushed to the verge as they play cat-and-mouse games with the police, put up with muggings and beatings by their supposed clients as they go about their business.
As if this is not enough, society is not doing them any kindness as it labels them and calls them all sorts of names, the local popular one being ‘Likuena’ , taking after Lesotho’s national team which is always beaten in its games.
In other places, they are referred to as ‘women of the night’ or ‘members of the world’s oldest profession’, and they have, however, managed to survive the test of time and are increasingly coming out of the shadows to fight for their right to co-exist with the rest of society.
Last month these women have had no option but to hike their service fees given the plunge in global economy, thus also driving them to advertise their services on social media in a bid to retain their clients.
As of 24 March the prices would range from M20.00 to M150.00, even more all depending on the services required.
A client looking for a baby kiss will have to pay M20.00, M30.00 for a French kiss, while one dying to dip a finger in the pussy or have a round is due to pay M50.00.
Any client looking for this short lived pleasure will have to part ways with a whopping M150.00, enough to put a two day’s bread on the table for a family of three, which is a 500 percent hike from the initial price.
These women have vowed to grace the streets of the Maseru Central Business District (CBD) despite their many challenges for as long as it takes, this includes breaking the observation of curfews put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.
In the wake of this pandemic, the business has welcomed new service providers, as a lot of women, young and old, mainly factory workers have lost their jobs. This has also called for an expansion of the forbidden trade to other districts.
In its interview with one of the sex workers, *Septor (aged 24), she’s been in the game for well over a decade after losing both her parents to HIV when she was only 13 and had to provide for her younger brother who was three years younger than her.
“Truth is it hurts because this is not what I had planned for my future, but circumstances have left me no choice but to indulge in what I always perceived as evil when growing up.
“This has been my way of survival over the years, but trust me, I don’t enjoy it one bit. It is such torture for me to bed all those strangers who come with their weird demands and in different sizes, but unfortunately I feel like I’m trapped as I don’t see how else I can earn a living.”
Sex work is a job that has left many Basotho women infected with HIV, with Lesotho being one of the countries with the highest prevalence innthe world. 25 % of the country’s slightly over two million population is living with HIV.
“The painful truth is that this is just a job; I don’t enjoy sleeping with all these strangers,” Septor reiterated.
Another sex worker, Lilly (30), told Lesotho Express that she is tired of this life even though there seems to be some organisation in the trade of late.
On many occasions this trade nearly caused Septor her precious life as she was beaten into a pulp and left half dead on the street by abusive and manipulative clients who wanted her services for free.
“I have been living like this for the past 15 years and I am not getting younger. My body tells me that it’s time to quit. I am getting weak by the day and I don’t like this feeling at all. My scars also tell that I have been through a lot.
“Thought the working environment is getting more conducive by the day as some people have opened their backrooms for us, as well as their shacks based in the CBD, still it’s not reason enough for one to hold on, especially because we still pay rent at the end of the day and share the already limited proceeds.
“All the years I have spent in these streets, I have risked my life and it’s time to leave while I still can and still in one piece. This is a life I would never wish for any woman or girl child,” said Lilly, who wears a big scar on her cheek from one of her many beatings she’s had to endure from her ungrateful clients.
She said their clients would have to make peace with the new prices or forget about their satisfaction.
“This time we mean business and they shall have to pay before they get serviced. Covid-19 has shown us flames and has taught us better. After all, it’s not that bad as there are clients who are already paying more than M350.00 to have unprotected sex,” Lily concluded.