“She has little chance of a fresh start” – child prostitution in South Africa

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Jounreymanpictures: Child prostitutes in Johannesburg

A gritty video  here focusing on the overstretched Child Protection unit in Johannesburg in South Africa. This documentary is two years old but still relevant and poignant and terrifying and shocking. It shows young sex workers addicted to drugs, driving off with customers, shouted at by pimps, lying about their age – and yet still trying to escape from rehabilitation homes and help centres to get back on the street.

The girls in this video talk about being raped, taking drugs, being abused and harming themselves as if they were discussing the weather. They don’t get much help, and they don’t expect anyone to care. Those who do mobilise to help are fighting an overriding tide of poverty, corruption and misogyny.

Ongoing rumours and concerns that the centre will be closed down have been denied and then have re-emerged  in a constant concern over what is really government’s intentions for the centre and its policies for women and children. It is, after all, a country where 78% of men admit to some kind of violence towards women, and where many believe using prositutes is a “call of nature”.

Incidentally, the producer of this video, journeymanpictures on YouTube, is home to some brilliant videos from all corners of the world, including the one in my previous post on child marriages in Yemen, and is well worth a look on YouTube.

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Ten years old – and married

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Having only recently discovered the brilliant World Pulse, it is a wealth of information – this is one story that struck me from it today.  The young girl, Reem Al Numery, was married at 10 in Yemen, whose case became the focus of international media attention. She even has a Wikipedia page.

But what happened after the camera flashes stopped? According to this article, the media focus did not relate to practical help – although Yemen has raised the legal age of marriage at least, to 17, in the wake of the negative media focus, there are still many who oppose the shaky law, and its too late for the quarter of all women in the country married before the age of 15. As for Reem, she is struggling to afford transport to school, to secure an education. Hailed as an “activist against early marriage”, she is left poorer financially, in the poorest country in the Middle East.

“I am so frustrated,” she said. “I see girls who are able to study and able to speak English and I am not. I would like for someone to help me.”

And this is the girl who has been the centre of focus in the media. Imagine all the girls who are forced into marriage and don’t get the benefit of media focus

“It is not really marriage, it is rape” says Shada Nasser, the lawyer who represented both Reem and the little girl Arwa in this video –  a good piece on another girl’s story of early marriage. Particularly interesting is the interview with the male doctor who helped Arwa escape her husband – but says that raising the legal age to 17 was a mistake.

“Islam determines the age of marriage to be when a girl is ready for intercourse” he says.

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