On International Sex Worker Rights Day – 3 March 2011- members of the African Sex Worker Alliance will be marching for sex workers rights and holding events in 9 cities across Africa.
This event follows another historical moment in the fight for sex worker rights in 2009 when sex workers from Southern, Western and Eastern Africa came together to form a sex worker led African Sex Worker Alliance (ASWA), whose mandate is to lead the fight for sex workers’ rights in Africa. To date the alliance is made up of 7 African countries; Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
“We call for access to health services and the ending of sex workers’ human rights violations. When we dare to be powerful, to go onto the streets and make our voices heard, we know there are those who will try to shame and ridicule us, with the hope that we will be isolated and silenced. But this won’t be the case!”, says ASWA Regional Coordinator, Kyomya Macklean.
In Johannesburg recently, members of the Sisonke Sex Workers Movement were shocked and saddened by the death of a colleague who was too afraid to report a serious assult by a hotel manager in Hillbrow “we visited her in December and encouraged her to lay a charge, in February we heard she was dead” recalls Kholi Buthelezi, National Sisonke Coordinator.
“We are marching in Hillbrow on Thursday to make sure that this does not happen again and to remember the life of Itumeleng.”
Sex workers in Limpopo province called on the police and society to respect sex workers means of survival, and recognize sex work as work. “We will no longer be silenced – human rights are for everyone” said Mickey Meji, the African Sex Worker Alliance’s South African coordinator.
Sex workers will be offered masks to help protect them from stigma and abuse, and marchers will use red umbrellas to symbolize protection. Allies, friends and families of sex workers, as well as civil society organisations are invited to come and support marchers. For more information on events, and for media contacts please see below.
Sex workers who need assistance (including legal advice) can call our toll free help line number on 0800 60 60 60.
To learn more about these marches and events please contact SWEAT (Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce) director Eric Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org (+27(0) 21 448 7875) or deputy director Sally Shackleton at email@example.com (+27(0) 82 330 4113).
SWEAT is a Shukumisa partner.