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At the tender age of 13, when most girls are still cuddling their dolls and braiding their hair, Suzy has been a prostitute for two years. She is paid R10 for sex. But included in the deal is an extra R5 for her younger brother Fred, who waits quietly for her outside the door while she is with "a client".
Suzy not her real name is one of a "skyrocketing" number of South African children who have resorted to prostitution in a desperate and tragic bid for survival. Drugs and alcohol help to dull their pain. The siblings currently live at the Siyakhuthala Overnight Centre in Korsten in Port Elizabeth and, for the moment, Suzy has been able to put her sickening career behind her. But the ravages of her childhood haunt her face.
Under the careful eye of the centre's Dr Trudie Basson, she describes her horrific past, fidgeting constantly but never far from her younger brother, who runs his hands constantly up and down her back as she talks. Their bond seems to give her strength to speak out about her past, although there are some questions she refuses to answer.
It's where your dreams are dashed because all you're obsessed with is making money for the next loaf of bread," she says. Suzy and Fred left home two years ago because their mother, whom they describe as an alcohol abuser, beat them. Their father never "once stopped our mom from beating us".
They lived on the streets and found shelter in dilapidated buildings, learned to "hustle the streets and make some money" to support themselves. But living on the streets turned out to be a lot more difficult than the children had thought it would be. Her dark journey started on the streets of Missionvale, when a man asked her for a "sexual favour".