End Violence Against Sex Workers

The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), together with Sisonke, the National Movement of Sex Workers, will commemorate the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers over the next few days through a series of activities in six provinces around the country. Sex workers, allies and activists will gather to pay tribute to the many sex workers who have died – often viciously murdered; and those who have suffered violence, abuse and brutality at the hands of police, clients and the general community.

Civil society organisations and government’s calls reverberate the loudest during the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. With 31 sex workers brutally killed this year alone (five more than in 2018), Sisonke National Organiser, Kholi Buthelezi says ‘treatment of sex workers under the criminal justice system has failed.  Abuse from people who should be protective of the community are not responding to sex workers and it is concerning that government is not prioritising the sex work community’.

Criminalisation of sex work increases violence and stigma and undermines the constitutional right of people choosing to sell sex. Research has shown that female sex workers are 18 times more likely to be murdered than other women and we call on the South African government to acknowledge the harmful effects of criminalisation and for President Ramaphosa to honour the #SexWorkPromise to decriminalise sex work. 

Nosipho Vidima, SWEAT Human Rights Officer says it has been over two years since the South African Law Reform Commission report on was handed over to the Ministry of Justice. “We are counting sex workers bodies monthly, we are handling cases of police brutality every day and instances of Intimate Partner Violence are not reducing for sex workers in this country.” She says it is time for the Department of Justice to formalise the bill and let everyone in this country decide on the legal model best suited for this country, its people and the Constitution.

Please join SWEAT, Sisonke and supporting civil society organisations when we amplify sex worker voices across the country:

Cape Town and Durban, 5 December 2019

East London, Johannesburg, Musina and North West, 6 December 2019

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