Monday, December 17, 2007

Interview: Tigist Salomon, sex worker in Ethiopia

Source: The Center for Public Integrity
By: Marina Walker Guevara

Article: Tigist Salomon, sex worker in Ethiopia

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

"During the day I am a member of the association and at night I am a commercial sex worker in the streets. I am not sure how old I am, but I think I am around 27," says Tigist Salomon as she introduces herself. Her carefully braided hair is pulled to the side revealing a pair of small earrings, her only adornment. Makeup is reserved for the night.

Where did you grow up?
I lived in an orphanage. With my friends, we escaped to try to find our parents. Along the way, I lost my friends and because of lack of other opportunities, I became a commercial sex worker.

Did you ever have a different job?
I tried a lot of different jobs, including shoe shiner. But I didn't succeed. Then I started commercial sex work.

How much money do you make?
If you stay with the man the entire night you can charge up to 50 birr [roughly $6.]. If it's for a short period of time, 20 birr. Sometimes men refuse to pay, they deceive me. I have a maximum of three clients per night.

What risks do you face in the street?
We face many problems. I was raped and became pregnant. My daughter is 9 years old.

I am very much afraid of HIV and I always go to VCT [voluntary counseling and testing]. I have to do it for my daughter; I have to live for her. Last time I got tested was six months ago.

Do men use condoms?
Men try to convince me that they don't need to use condoms. They say, 'I am confident of myself that I don't need to use condoms.' I always say no. If you go to a man's car he might use force to try to have sex without condom.

Who are your clients?
I don't know the profession of the clients, but they have cars. I believe they are gentlemen.

Is it safer to work at a hotel?
I would like to work at a hotel instead of in the street, but there are many commercial sex workers in the hotels. There's a lot of competition.

How did you get involved with ISAPSO?
The association looked for me in the streets and invited me to be a member. I have learned a lot of things about HIV. I like the collaboration with other women in my same situation. We work together, we defend each other. I like that very much. We are trying now to sell finished food — lunches, for example. If I get enough money here, why should I go to the streets? I don't like it there.

So you want to leave sex work?
I really want to leave sex work. She [my daughter] sees me when I put on my makeup and get ready to go out. I am worried about how that can affect her morals. One day she found a condom in my bag and asked me about it and why I was leaving the house with a condom.

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.


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