Briefing Paper: How Sex Work Laws are Implemented on the Ground and Their Impact on Sex Workers - A Study of Ten African Countries


Legislation around sex work can be extremely complex and different legal models exist in different countries, and sometimes even within countries. While understanding the written laws and regulations is important, it does not provide a complete picture of the impact of sex work laws on the lives of sex workers. To understand this, it is essential to understand how the laws are interpreted, enforced, and implemented on the ground.

The Love Alliance Programme seeks to significantly reduce HIV infections by influencing policies, raising awareness, and organising key population communities in ten African countries, with a specific focus on LGBT+ people, people who use drugs, female, male, trans and gender diverse sex workers, and people living with HIV.

NSWP, as one of the global advocacy partners in the Love Alliance programme, commissioned national consultants from sex worker-led organisations (and a women’s network in the case of Morocco) in ten African countries to better understand how the sex work laws in those countries are enforced and what impact this has on sex workers. The ten countries, spanning the entire continent, were Burkina Faso, Burundi, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

This briefing paper reflects on the sex work laws in the region, exploring key themes that are consistent across all of the case studies, and includes an analysis and recommendations on the way forward to strengthen advocacy for decriminalisation in these countries and the region as a whole. A short summary of each national legal case study is included at the end of this paper.

You can download this resource above. This resource is available in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese and Arabic.