This report summarises the deliberations of a one day event entitled “Labour of Love” held on 17th December 2010, hosted by Women’s Organization Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA) in partnership with Uganda Harmonized Rights Alliance (UHRA). The event primarily sought to put a human face to the lives of sex workers as well as challenge the public silence on violence against them. The forum was attended by 55 participants, including sex workers, brothel owners and human rights activists. The event was organised against the background that sex workers have continuously suffered from abuse, discrimination and violence which often goes unreported and unacknowledged. In particular, the event illuminated the achievements, coping mechanisms, challenges and recommendations regarding sex work.
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The criminalisation of sex work in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa leaves sex workers vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse, as well as extortion, from law enforcement officers such as police and border guards. Human rights violations and a lack of safe and supportive working conditions render sex workers particularly vulnerable to HIV. These are some of the findings of this report on the health and rights challenges confronted by female, male, and transgender sex workers in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.