Sex work is illegal in South Africa. Sex work is criminalised in the Criminal Code, and municipal by-laws also contain provisions that prohibit sex work such as “importuning any person for the purpose of prostitution” and “soliciting”. Sex workers have very little legal protection.
Regional updates: Africa
Our members are listed on the left or you can click the red umbrellas on the map.
Regional Board Members
Phelister Abdalla (KESWA), Kenya
Patrick Fotso (Alcondoms Cameroun), Cameroon
The African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) is a pan-African network of sex worker-led national networks and national and local organisations led by and/or working with female, male and transgender sex workers. It was formed in 2009 by sex workers and women’s activists and non-governmental organisations and is now based in Nairobi, Kenya.
News articles from Africa region are listed below.
Recently, the Tanzanian government arrested 500 suspected sex workers alongside an estimated 300 alleged clients in a police sweep that took place in March 2017. In the months of March and June 2016, sex worker communities experienced major arrests and harassment. 1,168 sex workers in various hotspots in Tanzania were imprisoned by the state.
Recent media reporting on sex work in various African countries show that sex workers continue to be portrayed negatively. Media outlets are further stereotyping sex workers using unsavouraly labels as well as portraying them in negative light. For example, in Kenya, one media station said sex workers ‘prey’ on married men while another termed them as ‘greedy’.
The African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) is co-organising a key populations pre-conference for this year’s International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) in Zimbabwe.
The African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) sends condolences to the family and friends of Joel Gustave Nana, the immediate former Executive Director of African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHER), who passed away last month.
There are unique challenges for African trans sex workers in their lives and work. Two trans sex workers in Uganda and South Africa have shared the unique challenges they face, including transphobia. ASWA board member and trans sex worker from Uganda, Beyonce Karungi as well as refugee trans sex worker, Flavina from South Africa, have both shared their life stories in articles published recently.
PrEP should be easily accessible to sex workers in Nigeria as an HIV prevention tool, an activist has urged with the Nigerian Sex Workers’ Alliance. Writing for the HIVE, an online journal on sexual and reproductive health, the coordinator of the Nigerian Sex Workers Alliance, Narah (a pseudonym), said that sex workers are being left behind when PrEP is offered.
Sex workers in three Southern African countries are the first beneficiaries of a programme that will see provide free HIV self-testing kits. Population Services International (PSI) is rolling out oral-swab HIV self-test kits to sex workers and other key populations in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. According to PSI, the self-testing kits are important because many people have not been tested because of stigma or limited access to health care facilities.
Stigmatisation and discrimination of sex workers at hospitals has been identified as one of the key barriers in accessing health services, a study has shown.
The study, conducted by the Center for Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Research (CeSHHAR) indicates that, in some hospitals and clinics in Zimbabwe, sex workers face hostile reception from health care providers and this hampers their access to HIV related treatment and care.