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.
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- (-) Africa
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Briefing Paper: How Sex Work Laws are Implemented on the Ground and Their Impact on Sex Workers - A Study of Ten African Countries
Zimbabwe Sex Workers Alliance (ZIMSWA) submitted this shadow report to the CEDAW committee in 2020 during the 75th CEDAW Session.
Human Rights Watch and the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) have released a new report recommending the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa, in order to protect the safety and wellbeing of women, and respond to the HIV pandemic.
This shadow report was submitted by Congolese sex worker-led organisations UMANDE and ACODHU-TS during the 73rd CEDAW Session, which took place June-July 2019.
Sex workers in Mozambique experience high levels and multiple forms of violence. Despite constant dialogue with the Government, the police act as protectors of sex workers, but they can also be perpetrators of violence. The relationship between sex workers and health unit professionals can also be problematic. This shadow report, submitted by sex worker-led Mozambican organisation Tiyane Vavasate Association during the 73rd CEDAW Session, which took place June-July 2019, highlights these issues.
Sisonke-Botswana and Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV and AIDS (BONELA) submitted this shadow report during the 72nd CEDAW Session, which took place February-March 2019. The report elaborates on the situation of cisgender and transgender women who are sex workers in Botswana. The report focuses the criminalisation of sex work; violence, abuse, and failure to act on reports of violence by police; stigma and discrimination faced by sex workers in accessing health services, and lack of free antiretrovirals for migrants.
Asociación en Pro Apoyo a Servidores (APROASE A.C.) and Tamaulipas VIHda Trans, A.C, with support from NSWP, submitted this shadow report to the 70th CEDAW Session, which took place June-July 2017. The Shadow Report draws from consultation with cisgender and transgender sex workers in Mexico, and highlights the diverse forms of discrimination they face.
NSWP denounces the harassment, arrests and detention of sex workers as part of the recently launched ‘Ujana’ programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Kenya Sex Worker Alliance (KESWA) and Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme, with support from NSWP and CREA, submitted this shadow report to the 68th CEDAW Session, which took place October-November 2017. Titled “Aren’t We Also Women,” the report incorporates quotes from sex workers and is based on desk research and extensive interviews with KESWA member organisations.
The Nigeria Sex Workers Association- Precious Jewels (NSWA) submitted this shadow report to the 67th CEDAW Session, which took place in July 2017. The report focuses on the impact of stigma, penalisation and discrimination on female sex workers' ability to access HIV prevention and health services, and their vulnerability to HIV and violence at the hands of police. The report also provides background information about NSWA and economic, health, and population context in Nigeria.
The Kenyan Network of Sex Workers, including KESWA and the Bar Hostess Empowerment & Support Programme, has submitted this document to the CEDAW Working Group which will review Kenya in November 2017.
The National Empowerment Network for Persons Living with HIV and AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK), the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA), the Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) and the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) have published their report Speaking Out: Personal Testimonies of Rights Violations Experienced by Sex Workers in Kenya. This report focuses on human rights violations among female sex workers living with HIV. It is based on a literature review and interviews conducted in May 2014 among 30 sex workers living with HIV in six counties: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Machakos, Kisumu, and Busia.
Amnesty International has published their research entitled "What I'm Doing is not a Crime": The Human Cost of Criminalizing Sex Work in the city of Buenos Aires Executive Summary, Argentina to accompany their Policy on State Obligations to Respect, Protect, and Fulfil the Human Rights of Sex Workers. Although sex work is not a crime in Argentina, sex workers, clients, and third parties are penalised through communication laws and anti-trafficking laws.
Amnesty International has published their research entitled "What I'm Doing is not a Crime": The Human Cost of Criminalizing Sex Work in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina to accompany their Policy on State Obligations to Respect, Protect, and Fulfil the Human Rights of Sex Workers. Although sex work is not a crime in Argentina, sex workers, clients, and third parties are penalised through communication laws and anti-trafficking laws.
Ishtar Lakhani from SWEAT and Duduzile Dlamini from SISONKE provide an overview of the programming at Mothers for the Future in South Africa. Mothers for the Future is a sex worker-led organisation run by mothers who do sex work. They show how mothers resist oppression and make tangible differences in the lives of mothers. This article was published as a part of Research for Sex Work 15: Resistance and Resilience.
In Kampala, Uganda, there is a large network of sex worker-led organisations that unite under the umbrella organisation Uganda Harmonized Rights Alliance (UHRA). Paula Pönkänen and Hanna Jörneus argue that sex work organising in Uganda is a great example of how sex workers develop and implement their own programming. They provide an overview of sex worker-led programming in Kampala.
This policy brief on the Decriminalisation of Sex Work in Kenya was written in collaborartion with the University of Amsterdam and NSWP member HOYMAS and KESWA. This policy brief argues that sex workers have the same rights as other citizens in Kenya as outlined in the Kenyan Constitution. The brief describes key instances in which the rights of sex workers as defined by the Constitution are violated in Kenya.
Kenyan sex workers continue to suffer human rights violations. Sex workers also bear a disproportionately large burden of HIV. This could be significantly reduced by a rights-based approach to their health needs. This research by GNP+ focuses on the human rights violations that female sex workers living with HIV face when they access healthcare services. It also highlights violations by law enforcement officers that impact on sex workers’ vulnerability to and ability to manage HIV.
This case study reflects on the development and impact of the Sex Worker Academy Africa (SWAA). The SWAA is a ground-breaking learning programme for community empowerment and capacity building, led by and for sex workers. The Academy brings together national teams of sex workers from across Africa to develop organising skills, learn best practices, stimulate national sex worker movements, and strengthen the regional network.
Sixty-five sex workers were arrested on Thursday 19th November in Kisii County, Kenya. The following day, the sex workers were taken to Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital and tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The leading officer from the Kisii Governor’s Office, Mr. Patrick Lumumba, stated there were too many sex workers loitering the streets of Kisii, “spreading HIV and STIs to married men”.