THE CONVERSATION: Debate around sex work in South Africa tilts towards decriminalisation

Article by: Cathi Albertyn 15 May 2016 South Africa may become the first African country to decriminalise sex work. If it does, it will be one of a handful of countries that have fully decriminalised sex work (including New Zealand and New South Wales in Australia), and the first African country to do so. Currently only Senegal makes some provision for legal sex work and subjects it to regulation… Sex work without interference Decriminalisation would help reduce these multiple rights violations. It would enhance the ability of sex workers to work without interference. It will make it easier for them to seek services and redress. This view is advocated by organisations such as the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce and Sonke Gender Justice, as well as the Commission for Gender Equality. Even the African National Congress Women’s League has nailed its colours to this mast. Opposing these views are radical feminist claims that “prostitution” is never a choice, but rather an instance of exploitation of women. Women’s lack of agency in engaging in sex work should be recognised. Proponents of this view argue that women should be assisted to exit sex work. This has resulted in the so-called “Swedish model”, which seeks to eliminate demand for sex work by criminalising clients, but not sex workers. Prominent among South African advocates of this position is the lobby group, Embrace Dignity. Read full article here: … Continue reading →

THE CITIZEN: Mommy is a sex worker

Article by: Tsholofelo Wesi 9 May 2016 It was a Mother’s Day with a difference for sex workers and sex worker advocates. The SolidariTea Mother’s Day event and launch of the Sex Worker Super Hero film gathered on Friday, May 6, 2016, to commemorate Mothers Day for sex workers with children. The event, hosted by Mothers for the Future (M4F), a programme that supports mothers who do sex work, was attended by 60 guests from organisations working with women, children and sex work, including 13 mothers who were sex workers themselves, according to Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) media officer Lesego Tlhwale. Duduzile Dlamini, event organiser at Sisonke, a sex workers’ movement, said mothers who did sex work faced a lot of challenges: “In our support group, they come every day with a whole host of problems.” Dlamini says some of the mothers lose their children because they are taken away from them by authorities under the assumption that they cannot care for their children and are bad mothers. A lot of the mothers do not feel ready to tell their children about their occupation, according to her. However, community members take it upon themselves to reveal to the children what their mothers do without the mothers’ permission. “They do not tell them in a way that the children can respect their mothers after that. The children are told in a way that they should hate their mothers in the end,” she says. Read article here. … Continue reading →

GROUNDUP: Mothers’ Day for sex workers

Article by: Ashleigh Furlong 6 May 2016 Mothers for the Future is a programme that supports mothers who are sex workers Mothers for the Future is an initiative of the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT). It provides support groups, outreach and home visits. Mothers discuss difficulties such as domestic violence, child grants, and the challenges that they face when their children are targeted as a result of their mother’s work. Duduzile Dlamini, the programme coordinator, says that some mothers even have their children taken away from them by social services and that their children, like their mothers, are criminalised. “We are proud; we are mothers; we are the best mothers, and we fight for decriminalisation [of sex work],” said Dlamini. “We pay school fees for our children to get more education. We pay bills but are not able to save the money. We can’t open accounts,” said Dlamini. Read full article here:     … Continue reading →

The Big Issue: Stalking a virus among the shadows

Article by: Laura Lopez Gonzalez 24 March 2016 Sex workers may just be the start We may be creating a social construct that PrEP is for these ‘bad people’ who are disorganised and are thought to be having a lot of sex. What we should be doing is targeting anyone who is at high risk of HIV” In many countries, epidemiology is pushing governments to work with criminalised populations like sex workers and men who have sex with men to step HIV epidemics. For many politicians, it’s an uncomfortable partnership of necessity that in some African countries means that health departments are quietly undertaking small programmes to reach out to these groups without much public pomp and circumstance.South Africa’s high-level and very public commitment to addressing HIV among sex workers is a rarity. “It’s rare for a country to have such high-level leadership dealing with HIV among sex workers,” Abdullah said. “It’s a sign that government is taking this very seriously and working with non-governmental organisations and the community to make sure that the right thing is done and done properly. And PrEP for sex workers may be just the beginning. Prior to the announcement, both the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI) and the Anova Health Institute had started small demonstration projects aimed at learning how best PrEP might be rolled out. While WRHI focused on Hillbrow sex workers, Anova Health nurses have been providing PrEP to about 100 men who have sex with men (MSM) from its Woodstock clinic in Cape Town. Previous 2009 studies conducted in Johannesburg and Durban, as many as about 38 percent of MSM surveyed were living with HIV – a figure almost double the national adult HIV prevalence rate. With a growing body of data on the country’s MSM, as well as new lessons being learned in Woodstock, MSMs may be the next group to receive PrEP if South Africa continues rolling out the once-a-day pill for prevention. Read full article here … Continue reading →