Wednesday, December 17, 2014
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.
David Kato Kisule (1964 – 2011) was a Ugandan teacher and LGBTI rights activist. He is considered a father of Uganda’s gay rights activism, a country with a deep conservative society where homosexuality is currently considered a crime. On August 2014 the Anti-Homosexuality Act has been struck down by the constitutional court, but the conservative reaction lives on to implement a new anti-gay bill.
The Cameroonian Penal code criminalises sex work through article 343. It states “(1) Any person of either sex who habitually engages, for compensation, in sexual acts with others, shall be punished with imprisonment for six months to five years and a fine of 20.000 (US$ 34.24) to 500.000 (US$ 856.11) francs. (2) Any person who publicly recruits individuals of either sex through gestures, words, writings or any other means, for purposes of prostitution or debauchery shall be punished with the same penalties.”
The red ribbon is a global symbol in the movement to address AIDS. The Red Ribbon Award, presented every two years at the International AIDS Conference (IAC), is designed to honour and celebrate community based organisations for their outstanding initiatives that show leadership in reducing the spread and impact of AIDS.
The sex worker rights movement in Africa has been advocating for sex work to be recognised as work for nearly twenty years now. With regard to sex work, African countries fall in three broadly distinct groups. First, those countries that criminalise the sex worker; second, those countries that do not criminalise sex work but do not recognise it as work (e.g. DRC, Burundi, Cameroun, Mali, Algeria); the third group recognises sex work as work even though it is still considered to be an illegal activity (e.g. South Africa, Kenya).
Sex Workers Education and Advocacy taskforce (SWEAT), Sisonke Sex Workers Movement and TB/HIV Care Association are concerned by the tone and ramifications of the Daily Voice article published on 17 June 2014 titled: “Land of hookers and Aids – Blikkiesdorp’s prossies reveal shocking lives.”
The article stated that “Blikkiesdorp, created by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, is nothing more than a gang-infested slum of nearly 15000 people rife with crime and prostitution.”
Being a sex worker in Africa is becoming even more difficult with restrictive laws being passed in a number of countries. Various countries have started to take deliberate actions to restrict the human rights of sex workers by imposing legislation or by-laws that ban sex workers from working. In several countries, including the DRC, Cameroon, and Kenya sex work is not illegal but most activities surrounding sex work such as managing a brothel or soliciting are.