A client went to the clinic to test for HIV, a Health Worker could not assist her instead shouted at her and told her to stop sleeping around without using a condom. The case was reported by a client to an organization implementing Human Rights Program focusing on Stigma and discrimination to the key and vulnerable population. After the Standing Committee intervention, the matter was escalated to the Clinic Manager and the client is now on ART.
Sex workers in many settings report extreme levels of violence and harassment in connection with their work from clients, health workers and police. Criminalisation makes it difficult for Sex Workers to report rights violations, especially by the police because they are vulnerable. Decriminalisation of sex work will not only make sex work and sex workers safer, but it will reduce stigma and discrimination at health facilities. Change in the law will mean rights to dignity and right to equality in treatment like all patients.
Realities, Risks and Needs
Decriminalisation of sex work means a step for better health and safety for women
The Human Rights Toolkit explain in detail the challenges faced by the Key and Vulnerable Population. All Key populations experience high levels of stigma, discrimination and violence and other rights abuses, which create barriers to access to healthcare and other essential services. These not only affect their livelihood overall well- being, access to health and claiming of other rights, but also impact their decision-making power and opportunities to seek and adhere to HIV, TB and STI treatment.
The realities, risks and needs of the key and vulnerable population are further influenced by discriminatory laws, policies and practices affecting their ability to make informed choices about all aspects of their lives, including accessing redress when their rights have been violated. This means that people’s choices to seek redress at a police station, for example, are influenced by both discriminatory laws and discriminatory practices.
Constance Mathe, Asijiki Coordinator
SWEAT the biggest Sex Workers advocacy organization in South Africa supports the view that the emphasis should be on economic empowerment or increasing income-generating options which can ultimately improve the health, safety and wellbeing of Sex Workers. Constance Mathe, Asijiki Coordinator said, “With more diverse sources of income and savings, Sex Workers are better able to avoid violent clients, take rest at times of illness or pregnancy, and deal with emergencies. As such economic empowerment is an important factor in improving Sex Workers, access to health care, psycho-social support and protection from violence to ultimately improve their health, safety and well-being’.
Blog by Monica Malika
For more information and interviews, contact:
Refiloe Menoe – Media & Communications Coordinator – CCF
078 400 3182
ABOUT COMMUNITY CONSTITUENCY FRONT (CCF)
The Community Constituency Covid-19 Front was established in March 2020 as a formal advisory body to facilitate the participation of civil society sectors and networks, including those represented in the national response and implementations of Community-Based Measures in response to the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). The Community Constituency Covid-19 Front promotes an inclusive, competent and responsive civil society that effectively serves the needs of communities by linking and diversifying civil society actors, expanding the sector’s response and ensuring better coordination, thus improving operations, and enhancing connections between civil society organisations with government, business labour, their stakeholders and beneficiaries. The Covid-19 Front aims to provide a hub of information and contacts for distribution and engagement through our members across the country.