Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Undressing Durban

I recently published an article titled "The Women of Durban's Dockside Sex Industry" in Undressing Durban, a collection of essays edited by Rob Pattman & Sultan Khan, sociologists at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.

The article looks at the lives of female prostitutes in Durban's dockside sex sector who solicit at a nightclub catering to foreign sailors. It considers their experiences as sex workers and how they deal with stigmatization, family concerns, chemical abuse, moral dilemmas, diseases, and violence. It assesses their fears & frustrations and their dreams & longings for what they hope to achieve through this work.

It concludes with the idea that dockside women are relatively empowered compared to their streetwalking & brothel-working counterparts. Since most hail from upcountry locales, they successfully live "double lives" that protect them from family and communal reprisal. Since their clients are foreign transients, the men pose no threat to their identities (ie. they have no social power outside the dockside world). And because the women solicit from a safe nightclub, they retain the right of refusal. And because they're the knowledgeable locals, they choose the location of sex, which enhances their power to insist on condom-use.

Ironically, these "upcountry" women are perhaps the most cosmopolitan citizens of Durban as they entertain dozens of nationalities every evening.

The book comprises a fascinating collection of 52 short essays by scholars and graduate students who are researching some aspect of Durban's social life. Many of the pieces deal with the shadowy and seamy side of the city. For more info on Undressing Durban:

www.undressingdurban.blogspot.com


Click on the PDF icon to download article:

Trotter, Henry. "The Women of Durban's Dockside Sex Industry", in Rob Pattman and Sultan Khan (Eds.), Undressing Durban (Durban: Madiba Press, 2007), pp. 441-452.

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