FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 26 May 2017 THE RELEASE OF REPORT IS TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE. Sex workers and sex worker organisations have been waiting for almost a decade for the release of the SALRC report on project 107 dealing with Adult Prostitution, “not because we trusted the results of the process, but because we thought it would at least push forward law reform on sex work” Said Ishtar Lakhani, SWEAT Advocacy Manager. “It was obvious to us some time ago that SALRC was both biased and disorganised, the Project being driven essentially by one person’s opinion with none of the original commissioners and researchers which began compiling the report, remaining at the Commission. In fact the institution was left without commissioners for almost 2 years and which has failed in its mandate.” Said SWEAT Director, Sally Shackleton Professor Cathi Albertyn, who worked on the Report until her term as SALRC Commissioner ended in 2011, expressed surprise and disappointment at the direction the Report had taken. “At the time I left”, she said ‘we were working towards a recommendation that decriminalized sex work and directed attention to how the law might contribute further to eliminating any harm that might accompany this work, whether forms of violence and abuse, rights violation or labour exploitation’. The Department of Justice was handed the report as far back as 2014 and while sex workers have been abused, arrested, fined and refused help, and many have lost their lives, the Department of Justice stood still and did nothing. SWEAT saw a copy of the report in late 2014 and at this time it recommended full criminalization with the option of diversion. It has been clear that this recommendation left government in a fix -because criminalization is a dismal failure and has been a failure for the past 58 years. For us, it was a no-brainer, move on and propose legislation in favour of decriminalising sex work.  But instead they did nothing. While the Department of Justice did nothing, criminalisation of both buying and selling sex had resulted in an increase in HIV among sex workers, increased harm and has enabled abuse and corruption by police. Just last week the Deputy President said the country must get behind a National Sex Work Plan which recommends decriminasation of sex work. We can only conclude that the timing of the release is a smoke screen or PR stunt on … Continue reading →

Call for Applications: Art Action Academy

ARE YOU AN ARTIST OR CREATIVE PRACTITIONER? ARE YOU INTERESTED IN CHALLENGING PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS ABOUT SEX WORK IN SOUTH AFRICA? THEN YOU SHOULD APPLY TO ATTEND OUR ART ACTION ACADEMY IN MAY! The Center for Artistic Activism (C4AA), in collaboration with SWEAT – Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce and Sonke Gender Justice, invites artists (and creative practitioners of all kinds) interested in challenging dominant narratives about sex work to apply for a 5-day Art Action Academy to be held in Johannesburg from the 24th to 28th of May 2017. Many artists want to create work that has a social impact. Unfortunately, organizing a successful social-change campaign often isn’t part of an artist’s education. The Art Action Academy (AAA) will help socially-engaged artists make their work more impactful and better evaluate the effect of their work. Using a range of contemporary examples of organizing and activism from around the world, participants will study the ways cultural creativity has been employed for social change. We will explore ideas from cultural theory to cognitive science to mass communications. We will learn to apply these ideas through a mix of classroom style presentations and practical exercises designed to unlock our imaginations from the prison-house of the possible – and then to figure out how to make the impossible into reality, through new strategies and tactics. The workshop will culminate in a collaborative creative action on the 28th of May. The goal of the AAA is not merely to impart knowledge, but to access, organize and operationalize the creative, cultural and political resources possessed by artists themselves. In brief, the goal of the AAA is to have participants own their method to further develop as successful artists and effective activists. The workshop will be led by the Center for Artistic Activism and draw on the experience of SWEAT and Sonke in implementing creative activism in their advocacy to decriminalize sex work. Applicants should be based in South Africa and able to commit to participating for the full duration of the workshop. Travel, accommodation and meal costs for selected participants will be fully covered. Apply Online by the 10th of March This Art Action Academy is supported by the Open Society Foundations and Open Society Foundation for South Africa … Continue reading →

Job Opportunity: Sex Workers Human Rights Defenders

SWEAT is looking for Sex Workers Human Rights Defenders to be based in Durban (x1), East London (x1), Gauteng (x2) and Cape Town (x1). This person will work with the Advocacy and Law Reform Unit 5 days a week on a full-time basis (40 hours a week). The Human Rights Defender will be responsible for collecting data for all human rights violations of sex workers in their allocated province as well as following-up on specific cases. This will involve a lot of on the ground work – going out of the office to collect information and engaging stakeholders like the police and sex workers. The person should be/ is expected to have: High degree of accountability and ethics Ability to use a computer Must be able to write simple, clear reports Knowledge of human rights, and of the arguments for the decriminalisation of sex work Good communication skills – especially listening skills Must be able to build relationships with people and maintain them with respect, confidentiality and trust Ability to speak at least 2 South African Languages, including English If you have participated in any SWEAT/Sisonke trainings list them to your advantage Must be a sex worker C.V’s should be sent to and You can call 021 448 7875 and ask for Nosipho Vidima for more information. Alternatively please drop your C.V at your nearest SWEAT/Sisonke office. Applications Closing Date: 10 February 2017. If you have applied for this post and would like to confirm receipt of your CV, please call Nosipho Vidima by the 13th February 2017.  … Continue reading →

Evidence on Exit: A Seminar on Strategies for Transitioning out of Sex Work

Institutions, including faith-based organisations; sex worker co-operatives or groups; representatives of organisations, or institutions and companies that work with people who sell sex and have implemented strategies for economic alternatives and/or transitioning out of sex work are invited to attend the one-day seminar on Strategies for Transitioning out of Sex Work. When: 8 November 2016 Venue: Cape Town (TBA) Time: TBA Background SWEAT is supported by BMZ and in partnership with the ILO and SANAC is undertaking an exploration of South African projects that assist sex workers to implement alternative economic activities or who choose to transition out of sex work through economic empowerment programmes including business training and mentorship, access to markets as well as access to business loans. The project aims to strengthen strategies and provide evidence to support work in this area by engaging with what works in current programmes, engaging sex workers themselves in focus groups and through examinations of projects in South Africa as well as other countries which have reported on their strategies and outcomes. In particular the project will contribute to the Sex Work National Strategic Plan (2016 – 2019) which includes a package of care related to economic empowerment. Those interested in attending are invited to save the date, and send an email to to express their interest in attending. An open invitation will also be added to … Continue reading →