DRC sex workers demand greater protection during COVID-19 pandemic

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HODSAS (Homme Pour le Droit et La Sante Sexuelle) have released a statement denouncing an increase in harassment in DRC, and highlighting the disproportionate costs of COVID-19 tests at the borders of DRC-Rwanda, and DRC-Burundi.

The statement reports the deaths of two sex workers who were found drowned on January 1 2021 in the Ruzizi River. The high cost of testing for COVID-19 in the three countries – DRC, Burundi and Rwanda – mean that sex workers are forced to make this crossing to return to their countries.

HODSAS reported 309 such crossings, 75 arrests and 17 cases of drowning of sex workers that were recorded during the months of November to December 2020 from the cities of Bukavu and Uvira. With more than 5,809 migrant sex workers registered in the cities of Bukavu, Uvira, Kamituga, Kavumu, Nyabibwe and Goma by HODSAS, the risk of arrests and drowning will continue to be high if nothing is done.

HODSAS demand:

  • The reduction and harmonization of COVID-19 testing costs between countries to facilitate the regular crossing of female sex workers who want to return home to the three countries to reduce the risk of drowning, rape and cross-border sexual violence;
  • Demand also the easing of border transactions for sex workers who want to reach their countries with a migration document in compliance with the barrier measures;
  • Accompany the return of female migrant sex workers under anti-retroviral treatment to continue treatment in their respective countries.

You can download the full statement from HODSAS in English and in French below.

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