Dorothy insists she follows strict rules for her own safety that include only working during daylight hours. She is saving as much as she can from her earnings and plans to start her own business selling sweets, betel nut or cigarettes. In the meantime, she has regular blood tests and counselling at the children's charity where Bertha volunteers.
Angela, now 18, has been selling sex since she was 15 and left school ' long years ago'. She was introduced to the work by a cousin sister who took her down to the beach and showed her how to do it. The customer pays the room fee to the guesthouse owner and the girl's fee directly to her. In the guesthouse, rooms are just large enough for a single bed. Greying, ill-fitting sheets barely cover the bed in one room, where a small bedside cabinet was empty except for eight condoms placed on top.
Condoms are provided in most guesthouses however, many girls who insist on condom use will simply be raped without one anyway, and often beaten up as well.
Susan, a slender girl in her mids originally from the Sepik River in northern PNG has been involved in the sex trade for several years. Angela says she spends all her earnings as soon as she gets them. She gives none to her parents whom she says she 'visits sometimes'. For girls working the streets like Dorothy and Angela, Bertha's health advice may be their ticket to survival. The girls were 14, 15, 18, Susan, a slender girl in her mids originally from the Sepik River in northern PNG, has been selling sex at another guesthouse near Boroko.
Although safer inside such an establishment than out on the streets alone or patrolling the beach, the guesthouse are at high risk of police raids. One such raid of the notorious Three Mile Guesthouse on a busy Friday night in hit international headlines due to the brutality of the police, who forced about 80 people on the premises to march for an hour through the streets to the Boroko police station.
Before the forced march the police trashed the guesthouse and bar, helped themselves to anything of value including computers, beer, whiskey and cash, and beat, spat on and forced those they took into custody to swallow condoms. As they marched the group through the streets, the police reportedly jeered at them and egged on the crowd to ' come and look at the sex workers!
These are the people who are spreading AIDS! The United Nations suggest that in the years age group, the number of girls exchanging sex for money, food, shelter, or some other thing such as school fees, is as high as two in three. At the station the men were all released without charge while all 40 of the women were thrown into the cells on charges of 'living off the earnings of prostitution'.
All the charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence that the women had actually been performing paid sex. There are believed to be more than 20 such ' guesthouses', which are basically small rooms off a central bar area, scattered around the city, at places like Boroko, Koki, Konedobu and Ela.
At one such 'club' where I am talking to Susan, it is lunch-time midweek and men are beginning to mill around drinking beer bought from a small barred window and playing pool with the girls on several tables. Music, mostly Papuan reggae style, blares out of the speakers. Girls gather round tables to play cards — some for money but mostly just for fun and to pass the time between ' jobs'.
The smell of 'lamb-flaps' cooking on a hot plate wafts around the tin buildings. Christmas tinsel hangs from the ceiling despite it being midyear. Off-white bed sheets flap on the clothes line outside the few small ' work rooms'. Chewing of betel nut is banned inside the premises and there's a regular to and fro of patrons through the large front gate as they take to the outside street to partake of the natural and traditional carcinogenic.
At one such 'club', it is lunch-time midweek and music, mostly Papuan reggae style, blares out of the speakers. Although it is much safer inside such an establishment than out on the streets alone or patrolling the beach, the gated brothel is still at risk of being raided by police.
The excitement in the building is growing. If there is competition among the girls it's not evident. Susan explains the circumstances that led up to her current life. After both her parents died in the mid s, she moved in with an uncle at Murray Barracks, but house life was 'very financially hard,' she says, 'so from there I started doing this in '.
Sometimes I regret it, sometimes I enjoy myself with my friends. I see plenty of guys. I can't count them. Some are ugly, some are handsome. I go with sometimes three or four men a day, sometimes five or six. Susan explains that she does not intend to be doing this sort of work forever. She wants to get married. I'm still drinking beer like this but I'm trying my best to change myself and not be like this.
The only thing is I must go and get married. It's hard for me to save money. It's not good money, you know — it's sin. I'm selling myself, it comes in and goes out, it's dirty money. That's how I feel. Teenage sex workers Dorothy, left, and Angela, right, work their ' patch' at Ela Beach, a regular pick-up spot in Port Moresby.
Just 16 years old, Dorothy has only been selling sex for the past four months. Angela, pictured right,now 18, has been selling sex since she was 15 and left school ' long years ago'. She said she was introduced to sex work by a cousin sister who took her down to the beach and showed her how to do it. A survey revealed that although many hide their sex work from their families and the community, more than a third reported being shunned by their loved ones.
Many sex workers are also denied medical treatment when a nurse or doctor learned what they do for a living. One of the catalysts for Susan's choice of work dates back to early in her 'career'. He wanted to see her again and gave her his phone number but she misplaced it. He has been her only white man and she has not forgotten him.
She's still waiting for a 'special' man like that to come into her life again, take her away and marry her. Getting a man and getting married is a recurring theme among the girls at the guesthouse. Ruth has been visiting the guesthouse near her home for about three months and describes herself as 'not really a working girl' , although she readily admits to selling sex. I'm trying to look for a good fellow to get married PNG is a Christian country so we only allow men versus women here.
Sex is an intimate thing. Some of the guys get crazy about you but it would never go anywhere. I guess the Pretty Woman idyll does not live here. Danika is a year-old, single mum of three who lives with her parents and her elderly grandmother. After a string of bad relationships, when she found herself in a dire financial struggle, she decided she would try prostitution.
Does it ever get to you? Things just roll off my back. Her mother keeps her secret and is very supportive, looking after her children while she works, sometimes days at a time without returning home. I try not to look at the TV but my eyes kept drawing towards it. She won't divulge how old she is but I'd guess late forties or maybe her life has just been tough.
Shine bright like a diamond. It seems fairly common to come and go from the industry, but lure seems to bring the ladies back time and time. The girls kept saying the job was addictive. I would have guessed they meant the money, but on closer consideration, the job creates a sense of loneliness and segregation from the real world. Conversely, the job also quenches that feeling because behind those walls there are no secrets. Everyone knows that they are selling sex and there is no subterfuge.
I like the activity. Even on my nights off I like to hear the activity. Usually the girls will stop working when they have a relationship, but Holly is currently madly in love with a man who has no idea what she does for a living.
This is a very real fear for all of the girls, but Holly has already felt the brunt of this when she lost her entire family, including her three children, after being found out. She no longer has any contact with her children, but she hopes one day they will find her and look beyond the odium attached to her profession and reach out to her once more. On TV you see streetwalkers, drug-addicted streetwalkers. The Universe has given me this job for a reason.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Holly began in the industry after falling into a large hole of debt. I asked the girls about the money. In theory, they would only need to work a few months at a time and take time off, or save enough to do something big with, but the girls I spoke with all seem to have money issues.
She was on an apprentice wage and wanted extra cash. She said until she started working in the sex industry she had no confidence with men and hated getting undressed in front of them. I felt as though she deflected much of her feelings by being coarse or crass, particularly with her clients.
In fact, she attributes often getting the client in the first place with her overtly bolshie and sexual approach. She initially assumed that guys would go for the prettier or the slimmer girls, but the more often she was chosen, the greater her confidence in her sex appeal grew.
In the precursory sexual health check she will inspect a client for obvious lesions whilst making a man stand on one leg. I also hate getting on top. I have no rhythm. When she went for an intro during our interview she suggested I come in to the room with her if she was picked. I reckon a guy would be up for it. The hour overnight shifts are difficult to stay awake on, and not all clients are created equal. Some are nice, some are not.. 13 Mar "If a family wanted to sell their girl, they'd usually come to me and say, 'Can you Not every girl here becomes a sex worker, but again and again in these . local girls who glam up in the attempt to catch rich, often Western. 24 Oct To girls in their teens selling sex on the streets of Port Moresby, Papua BEATEN for wanting to use a condom: The hidden shame of prostitution in . Visitors at the local brothel, known as a 'guesthouse, are charged out by. 30 Aug When he first asked about photographing, the women didn't believe According to McAndrews, there are 'parlor brothels', (like the Old This is Ben, the former owner of the Wild West Saloon brothel in Winnemucca with his father, Art. .. divide every local community between Beechwood and Sandyford.