Gender Links country manager Sarry Xoagus-Eises has implored the media to report objectively on issues affecting sex workers without tarnishing the workers’ reputations.
Xoagus-Eises, who spoke at a workshop aimed at sensitising the media on matters related to homosexuality and sex work, yesterday said media reports, especially the print media, are often sensationalised in the media’s quest to make money, thus forgetting to put a human face to the pressing issues regarding sex workers.
“Our newspapers are insensitive towards how we are being represented and it’s really disappointing,” Xoagus-Eises told a number of sex workers at the meeting.
“We, journalists, always run after money. We’re not protecting the identities of sex workers, but no large amount of money or newspaper apologies can bring back the dignity of a tarnished sex worker,” said Xoagus-Eises, a former NBC journalist.
Although the meeting was intended for media pracitioners specifically, only this reporter showed up, something that disappointed Xoagus-Eises.
The rights of sex workers are often violated because they are marginalised, she said, and encouraged sex workers to be more vocal and make their presence felt in advocating for their rights. The media, Xoagus-Eises added, provides a good platform for sex workers to voice their stories.
“Sex workers’ stories sell like hot cakes in the media and the media cannot shy away from news which is a commodity that is selling,” Xoagus-Eises explained. She also advanced the argument that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world and that even the Bible makes reference to sex workers.
Like any other job, sex workers do this to put bread on the table for their families, Xoagus-Eises maintained.
“Ours is a survival model. It’s about you going to work. It’s work that you do, like any other person, to get a salary. If it does not bring benefits then I’m not sure why you should do it. Sex workers want their rights back. It’s already guaranteed by the Constitution,” Xoagus-Eises said.