SWEAT has a 20-year history in organising sex workers, advocating for and delivering services to South African Sex Workers. We have facilitated birth of two movements – a Pan African Alliance of sex workers (African Sex Worker Alliance) and a national movement of sex workers called Sisonke. ASWA is now an independent organisation based in Kenya, and Sisonke is moving towards its own independence in South Africa.
Our vision is: A South Africa where people who choose to sell sex are able to enjoy freedom, rights and human dignity.
SWEAT uses an evidence informed human rights based approach to address sex workers’ health.
We embrace the concept of wellness – which requires the active participation of sex workers in becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness goes beyond merely the absence of disease – it includes physical, mental, and social well-being.
SWEAT is currently finalising its new strategic plan, which consolidates its programmes into two areas of focus:
- The objective of which is to create an enabling environment for service delivery through the mobilization of sex workers to demand services
- The objective of which is to reduce violence, improve access to rights and to enable sex workers to actively claim their rights through the decriminalisation of sex work, and policy reform
SWEEEP works directly with sex workers, their families and direct service providers, while ALRP simultaneously works at a community, state and societal level. Information generated by work at these levels provides scaffolding for the achievement of our goals and vision. For example, our national Help Line provides direct support to sex workers, but also notes trends in issues being experienced by sex workers that informed advocacy, which in turn, directs service provision.
Both programmes employ sex workers in action and leadership.