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Miranda turns to sex work to survive

Timoci Vula
Thursday, October 19, 2017

MIRANDA was living a happy life as a respected police officer and as a wife and mother to two children.

There were the usual problems, petty and serious, within the marriage, but all that was under control.

Both were working in a government station in the interior of Fiji.

Their problems worsened when the need for work transfer to Suva became official.

The 41-year-old said the issue of work transfer was a big deal for her husband, who was also a police officer and in the end, she ended up going to Suva alone.

Some time went by and attempts to save her marriage proved futile.

Her attempts to get a place to rent were even harder for her at that time.

When she first moved to Suva, she stayed with her mother, but even then, was given a short period of time to look for another place for herself.

In an interview with Nai Lalakai reporter Viliame Ravai, Miranda said she found it difficult to find a place to rent, and when her mother eventually told her to go, she began to miss work.

She said her personal problems began to weigh on her and it affected her to the extent that she lost her job.

And eventually, her mother told her to go.

That was the turning point for Miranda.

"I didn't know where else to go. My mother had shut her doors on me, and my siblings will never help me in any way," she said.

She met a friend in 2014 who lived in an informal settlement near Suva.

It was there that Miranda was told about the quickest way to make money, and got her first exposure too.

"My first time, my friend took me to Nabua.

"There were others (sex workers) there too, but I just stood at the back watching what they did because I did not know what to do, and my friend was selling me to another client," Miranda said.

"My first client was a senior government official from one of the Pacific Islands, he came in his vehicle and we drove to Rifle Range," she said, adding she got paid $80 that night for oral sex.

She said that night alone, she made more than $100, but on a good night she could earn an average of $250.

Miranda learned the trick of the trade, that she would not only come out at night.

Sometimes, she would out during the day.

"We called it early worm. That means we come out to town from 7am to 2pm and that was quick cash too. It was getting me good money so I continued with it."

Years after, Miranda remarried and moved to the village.

And that was not the end of her involvement with the sex trade.

Miranda may have left the informal settlement where she stayed, which she described a few times during the interview as the red zone because of the many young women and transvestite sex workers who were there, but she still continues to be involved in sex work.

This time forced by her husband, who would send her to town to look for money and only return when all items on the shopping list were bought.

"My husband has a plantation and all that, but he still sends me to town to come and look for money when there is no sugar, tea, flour or rice and things like that.

"If I return without any of those things, he would hit me.

"It just happened to me recently and I received injuries, I even sprained my ankle and it became a court case."

On the day of the interview, Miranda had just arrived in town a little after 8 am and was expected to make money, buy the groceries and return to the village in the 4.15 pm bus.

She said if by the afternoon she did not make that money, she would have to sleep on the street or hang around with grog vendors until the next day to continue the job.

"I don't come out often to the streets but I do come when my husband makes me.

"Sometimes, I find it really hard to come to town but I have no choice, I have nowhere to go because my family has shut me out of their lives."

Asked about any faith-based organisation she knew that would assist her, she responded in the negative, claiming those organisations were often the first to ridicule and point fingers at sex workers like her.

Miranda said it would be ideal at this stage to assist not only sex workers, but also young women who had been shunned by their families.

Citing incidences of abuse and violence that sex workers were often subjected to, Miranda said it would be better to decriminalise sex work.

She said sex work was a high-risk job with not only risks of sexually-transmitted infections, but also abusive and violent behaviours of male clients.

Miranda said she wanted a good job but could not do that because of her background as a sex worker.

She said she finished school at Form 7 (*now Year 13) and even holds a Certificate in Clerical Duties "but I still cannot get a job because of my background".

In the meantime, Miranda continues to travel between the village and the Capital City on a weekly basis to earn a living for her family.

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