On International Sex Worker Rights Day – 3 March 2011- members of the African Sex Worker Alliance will be marching for sex workers rights and holding events in nine cities across Africa.
This event follows another historical moment in the fight for sex worker rights in 2009 when sex workers from Southern, Western and Eastern Africa came together to form a sex worker led African Sex Worker Alliance (ASWA), whose mandate is to lead the fight for sex workers’ rights in Africa. To date the alliance is made up of seven African countries; Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
“We call for access to health services and the ending of sex workers’ human rights violations. When we dare to be powerful, to go onto the streets and make our voices heard, we know there are those who will try to shame and ridicule us, with the hope that we will be isolated and silenced. But this won’t be the case,” says ASWA Regional Coordinator, Kyomya Macklean.
Shocking treatment of sex workers
In Johannesburg recently, members of the Sisonke Sex Workers Movement were shocked and saddened by the death of a colleague who was too afraid to report a serious assault by a hotel manager in Hillbrow “we visited her in December and encouraged her to lay a charge, in February we heard she was dead,” recalls Kholi Buthelezi, National Sisonke Coordinator.
“We are marching in Hillbrow to make sure that this does not happen again and to remember the life of Itumeleng”
Sex workers in Limpopo province called on the police and society to respect sex workers means of survival, and recognize sex work as work. “We will no longer be silenced – human rights are for everyone” said Mickey Meji, the African Sex Worker Alliance’s South African coordinator.
Sex workers will be offered masks to help protect them from stigma and abuse, and marchers will use red umbrellas to symbolise protection. Allies, friends and families of sex workers, as well as civil society organisations are invited to come and support marchers.
The marching routes in SA
ASWA South Africa (Cape Town)
Route: From Keizersgracht street (at the Cape Peninsula University of Cape Town) to Wale street (the Premiers’ office)
Starting time: 9am
Contact: Ntokozo Yingwana: Ntokozo.email@example.com
ASWA South Africa (Johannesburg)
Route: From the Workers’ Library at the corner of South Miriam Makeba street and East Commissioner street, to the Johannesburg Central Police Station
Starting time: 12pm
Contact: Kholi Buthelezi: KholiB@gmail.com 073 247 9623
ASWA South Africa (Limpopo, Mussina)
Route: From the N1 check point in Mussina to the police station in the central business district
Starting time: 9am
Contact: Mickey Meji: firstname.lastname@example.org 084 062 8496
For more information on events, and for sex workers who need assistance (including legal advice) can the toll free hotline number on 0800 60 60 60. (Press release, March 2011)