UNIADS: Sally-Jean Shackleton: Getting Away From One-Size-Fits-All Health Policies

4 March 2016 What got you involved in the AIDS movement and particularly around PrEP advocacy? I work for an organisation called SWEAT — which stands for The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce. Our interest is in the health and wellbeing of sex workers, which means we work in the intersection of rights and health. PrEP is an important tool for prevention, and since we are based in a country with one of the highest prevalence rates, it’s a key concern for us! What is an example of PrEP advocacy work you have engaged in recently? Is there a particular tactic or approach you have used in your advocacy that you can share? We have been partnering with a number of organisations making up the South African Sex Work Sector — and as such, participating in the development of a national Plan for sex work programming, which includes PrEP. In December last year, Truvada was approved for use as PrEP and so the country is developing guidelines for its use and plans for its distribution. We are campaigning for sex workers to be in the room in these discussions and ensuring sex workers are knowledgeable about PrEP. Aside from policy work, we work with peer educators, who are themselves sex workers, to deliver services on a range of issues, and advocate for the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa. We provide a safe, supportive space for sex workers to lead groups on topics of concern — from motherhood to migrancy. From your perspective, what are the top priorities for PrEP advocacy to advance an accelerated, more equitable response to AIDS? Key is to ensure sex workers (trans and cis women, as well as men) are present in discussions on PrEP; especially sex workers from countries with the highest HIV burden. Secondly, we need to take a patient-centered approach. PrEP is only effective if it is used correctly — this means we have to invest in ensuring that there are adequate support structures, that sex workers are informed and that we address current disparities in health care settings for sex workers. Thirdly, we must continue to address sex work stigma and structural barriers, and change laws that prevent access to health and justice. PrEP is not a magic bullet — if we continue to apply new advances in the same, flawed and discriminatory health care settings, we will be wasting valuable … Continue reading →

ZOUTNET: Local sex worker helps improve colleagues’ lives

05 February 2016 She comes in quietly and sits down properly. She is very soft-spoken. She is a sex worker. Up until two years ago, Todani (not her real name) was just a sex worker until she got drawn in by the Munna Ndi Nnyi? (MNN) organisation in Louis Trichardt. MNN means “Who is the real man?” in Tshivenda. They have their head office in Thohoyandou and a satellite office here in town. Their goal is to help and assist local sex workers with health, legal and human-rights issues that they encounter in their daily work place. The aforementioned woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, is now one of Munna Ndi Nnya’s peer educators who manages education and talk programmes to fellow sex workers. “I now know my rights, not only as a sex worker, but also as a human being and citizen of this country,” Todani explains. She, like the many other women she supports, prefers to be called a sex worker, rather than the derogatory term prostitute or magosha. This is in line with the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce’s (SWEAT) human rights approach that they follow. All SWEAT’s outreach activities centre around health and human rights, and the recognition that sex work is work and should be legalized. Read full article: http://www.zoutnet.co.za/articles/news/35328/2016-02-05/local-sex-worker-helps-improve-colleaguesa-lives … Continue reading →

NEWS24: Advocacy group demands justice for murdered Cape Town sex worker

4 February 2016 Cape Town – It is “unacceptable” that the wheels of justice are turning “painfully slow” for murdered sex worker Nokuphila Kumalo, the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) said on the steps of the Western Cape High Court on Thursday. “This is not a nameless, faceless woman that was killed,” Sweat lobbyist Glynnis Bentham said. “She had a mother; a family. She deserves justice.” Acclaimed artist Zwelethu Mthethwa is accused of killing the 23-year-old by kicking her to death in Woodstock on April 14 2013. The painter and photographer has pleaded not guilty. “It has been three years. Three years! Is it because she isn’t white and because what she did [for a living] is criminalised? This trial is dragging. No progress is being made.” Read full article: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/advocacy-group-demands-justice-for-murdered-cape-town-sex-worker-20160204?isapp=true … Continue reading →

GROUNDUP: New delay in sex worker murder trial

3 February 2016 Nearly three years ago Nokuphila Kumalo, a sex worker, was beaten to death in Woodstock. The trial of artist Zwelethu Mthethwa, accused of the murder, beset with postponements from its start in 2013, was delayed again today for the second time this week… Throughout the trial, activists from the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), sometimes two or three, sometimes many more, have been a constant presence outside the court. Lesego Tlhwale, spokesperson for SWEAT, said reduced numbers of activists outside the court recently did not mean the organisation was losing hope. SWEAT would come out in force on key dates, she said. Glynnis Benthan, a lobby officer at SWEAT who was outside the court this morning, said that last year she was there through rain and storms. “We want justice. This girl is a “no name” but we are here to say she is somebody,” said Benthan. Read full article: http://www.groundup.org.za/article/new-delay-sex-worker-murder-trial/ … Continue reading →