Tammy is one of six children born to a family with addictions and a mother who was a sex worker in Gauteng . At the age of 3 Tammy was taken to a children’s home in Durban.
Tammy was returned to her mother at age 13 and at age 14 her mom was diagnosed with cancer. Tammy left school permanently to work in a factory in Durban to support the family. Tammy recalls how factory owners often came into their shelter looking for children for cheap labour, knowing the families needed the money. Tammy was employed without a contract and paid a deplorable wage.
When Tammy was 16 her mother passed away. Just before Tammy was 18, she was ‘fired’ from her factory job because he was old enough to receive a contract. Tammy was left with nothing. With no money or reources to survive, Tammy found herself speaking to the manager of an escort agency. Tammy was told because she was young she could earn R1000 a night. Tammy needed the money and recalls looking in the mirror, everything hanging out, and not even recognizing herself. Tammy recalls how she did not want to sell her body for money but felt she had no other choice. After a few years Tammy turned to drugs to cope.
In 2013 Tammy finally left the sex industry with assistance from a church friend, got married and got serious about God. Tammy remembers crying to God for help when there was no money for food. “I opened my bible to the book of Luke and began to read about how God provides for the bird and will provide for me. And then I heard God say that I have two choices: sell my furniture or sell my body. He was asking me to trust him. Two weeks later I got a job.”
However Tammy’s contract ended and was not renewed because she was pregnant. In 2015 Tammy was referred to Red Light to be a part of their project for human trafficked survivors and exploited women who feel they cannot exit the sex industry for various reasons. “I found a place where I would not be shunned and could speak my heart. Red Light taught me to look to God for provision. I would love to do the same for other girls one day.”
Tammy was released from the Red Light project in 2016 with new HOPE and DIGNITY in her heart. Tammy received emotional, financial and spiritual support and completed her safety officer course with funding aid from Red Light partners. Tammy was able to open a feeding program in her community for vulnerable and homeless children. “I have a dream of buying a piece of land and building a place where girls can come off the street and find a safe place, a place where we can tell them about what God wants for their loves, where they can be educated and find a new path. Although I am still waiting for breakthrough in some areas of my life, in God I have direction. And I have hope.”
The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that: is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work. (http://www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/lang–en/index.htm)
Definition: ‘‘abuse of vulnerability’’- for purposes of section 4(1), means any abuse that leads a person to believe that he or she has no reasonable alternative but to submit to exploitation, and includes but is not limited to, taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of that person resulting from— (a) the person having entered or remained in the Republic illegally or without proper documentation; (b) pregnancy; (c) any disability of the person; (d) addiction to the use of any dependence-producing substance; (e) being a child; (f) social circumstances; or (g) economic circumstance