Sex workers want to be heard

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

Sex workers from several countries in Africa have gathered in Johannesburg to discuss violations and abuse which they encounter on a daily basis.

The conference, which is being attended by 150 sex workers from about nine African countries, is also aimed at the formation of an African sex workers' alliance.

Among the countries represented are Uganda, Nigeria, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia and South Africa.

The event started on Tuesday in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, and ends today. Organised women's rights formations including Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce, Reproduction Health and HIV Unit, Treatment Action Campaign, and People Opposing Woman Abuse are represented.

"My mother was a kitchen girl, my father was a garden boy, that's why I'm a sex worker," some of the delegates sang.

Among the issues being discussed are:

l The recognition of sex workers as workers;

l Abuse by police;

The stigma associated with sex workers;

l The dehumanising treatment that sex workers receive from civilians and clients; and

l Exploitation by pimps and human trafficking in the business.