Photo Essay: Creating a Dialogue on the Humanity Behind Sex Work

While working with the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), a human rights NGO in Cape Town, South Africa, I collaborated with my fellow ISMMS student, Vivian Nguyen, to create “I Am A Sex Worker.” Over the course of 9 weeks, we interviewed and took photos of 85 male, female, and transgender sex workers. Each has agreed to share their stories, portraits, and “I Am A Sex Worker” statements in hopes of combating the dehumanizing, sensationalized media representation of the sex work industry and those who participate in it. Through this project, we hope to spark a dialogue about the shared humanity in all of us.

Included here are 7 entries from “I Am A Sex Worker.” The full project can be viewed here.

Kevin: “I am a real body builder”


Nomonde: “I am a housekeeper…I like to see myself helping other people by giving (out) kitchen soup.”


Richard: “I am a sex therapist…I’m happy to be myself. I enjoy being with other people and making them happy.”


Mama Joyce: “I am a mother of 6 children…I work as a sex worker to put food on the table. The money I get is to take care of my children to go to school. I also managed to buy a house because of the money I make on the road.” 


Shakira: “I am proud I’m gay…My family respects me and who I am. I’m a genius model.”


Sizeka: “I am happy to be a sex worker…What I’m doing is my own choice. I’m happy that I’m doing it.”


Jayson: “I am a role model.”



kwoki01_0765 resizeIan Kwok is an MD Candidate, Class of 2017

Comments are closed.