More about Thuli's story

Born into an unloving and abusive family in the poverty-stricken community in rural Sodwana, KwaZulu-Natal, Thuli (name changed) headed to the big city of Durban in search of a better life. With just a Grade 10 education she soon discovered that jobs were scarce and the few options available paid a woeful amount. She was employed as a domestic work but it didn’t provide nearly enough to support herself and her family so in desperation she turned to the more ‘high paying’ option of sex work.

Her first job was in a hostel for migrant workers and over the next three years Thuli worked in hotels, customers’ homes and hostels. Her experiences are unimaginable to most and she was often beaten, sometimes robbed and oftentimes dropped off in the middle of nowhere with no means of finding her way home.

When she was almost killed by a violent client she realised that leaving the sex trade was, literally, a matter of life or death. After meeting a Red Light team in 2013 Thuli decided to commit to changing the course of her life – something Red Light is helping her to do through practical and emotional support.

Thuli completed computer, sewing and jewellery courses and supports her children by taking in whatever work is available. She is incredibly talented with her hands and loves making pillowcases and bedspreads to sell. She also uses fever tree bark to make heart-shaped jewellery, which Red Light sells on her behalf.

While she is a very articulate woman in her mother tongue, Thuli has difficulty with communicating in English.  Red Light has referred her to the Durban Language Centre where she completed numerous grammar and communication sessions and received an attendance certificate at the end of the course.

In spite of all her challenges, Thuli has grown immensely throughout her journey with us and has shown huge development and change in her life. In collaboration with Red Light, she attends vocational training with one of our partners and earns a monthly income to help her fulfil her dream of having a good job and supporting her family.

Through financial training courses, she has learnt how to save, budge and spend her money wisely and has seen most of her financial challenges overcome.

As one of Red Light’s beneficiaries and a participant in its programmes, Thuli still receives case and group-counselling.

Life is by no means easy but her days in the sex industry are behind her and she’s committed to bettering herself and creating a new life for herself and her children.

Exploitation of Vulnerability:

Many factors create conditions for exploitation and the victimisation of human trafficked victims. Fractured families, inadequate education, unemployment, childhood abuse, physical or mental disability and the general strains of poverty all breed desperate situations where sex work seems like the only solution. In the South African context the weight of a family’s financial burden often falls to the women to bear even if the man is not working, a hopeless, inescapable and often violent reality.