Thanks to our staff and the Sisters with whom we work, we have an in-depth understanding of the field of prostitution. This allows us to not only talk from a position of experience, but to come up with cutting-edge interventions that are relevant to the South African context and are innovative in responding to those challenges.
At present, we empower prostituted women in the Western Cape through our Exit Programme, which facilitates the exit process of prostituted women and provides them with training in leadership, life skills and job skills. Our Dignity Market allows our Sisters to sell products that they have manufactured at our Dignity Centre and earn an income. The Sisters are also able to earn an income by offering their services – be it catering for events or the facilitation of a workshop – and working at our offices or other places for periods of five weeks at a time to develop their skills and gain work experience.
The Exit Programme also provides women with support tailored to their specific needs
- Psychosocial support: The Sisters receive counselling and support from a qualified psychologist. This helps the Sisters process trauma in their lives and focus on their immediate and future needs.
- Group counselling: Group counselling helps them support each other and work as a team.
- Technical Support: The Sisters receive technical support by staff or an outside mentor which is allocated to each Sister based on their personal development plan.
- Skills development: Training in specific skills, for example computer,
or business skills, is arranged to help the Sisters further their education. Mentors also continue to guide the Sisters as they address short-term and long-term needs on their journey to find employment or to develop their own business. By addressing our Sisters’ needs related to economics and education, we also address some of the core reasons women remain in prostitution and enter in the first place.
- Financial support: Sisters may receive support to assist them with
furthering their education, to kick-start their own business or develop a contract proposal.
As part of the Exit Programme, we have established ARISE (formerly known as Masiphakameni – let us rise in isiXhosa), which focuses on growing leadership. We support the Sisters in leading ARISE as survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking and in linking up with survivors in Africa and the rest of the world.
Through ARISE Sisters are also able to empower themselves and to lobby the government to address their needs, identify and mobilise resources, and develop strategies and support for their members and others to exit prostitution.
Sister Circles operate as one of those support systems. Circles have been established in five communities in Cape Town, which include Khayelitsha, Delft, Philippi and Gugulethu. These Circles are organised and hosted by Sisters and operate as safe peer learning and support spaces. Here the Sisters can reflect and articulate their needs and share their challenges.