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

Regional Network

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.

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A study of sex workers in four African countries has found out that sex workers face gross human rights violations and abuse due to the criminal nature of their work.

‘Human rights abuses and collective resilience among sex workers in four African countries: a qualitative study’ released in early August by a team of researchers who talked to female, male and transgender sex workers in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, found that unlawful arrests and detention, violence, extortion as well as societal exclusion ‘had an extreme impact on the physical, mental and social wellbeing of this population.’

‘The majority of countries in the world have punitivelaws against sex work,’ the report states, ‘… virtually throughout Africa, this occupation is an explicit criminal offence.’

‘This criminalization and the intense stigma attached to the profession shapres interactions between sex workers and their clients, family, fellow community members, and societal structures such as the police and social services.’

14th August 2013 by NSWP

SWEAT and Sisonke have launched the 'In Her Heels' toolkit on Women's Day (9th August), at the Artscape Women/Humanity Arts Festival.

‘In Her Heels’ is a sensitisation training tool that puts participants in sex workers' shoes – using story cards and different scenarios that are based on sex workers real life stories.

The narratives challenged the public to empathise and walk in the sex workers ‘high heels’ to reflect on stories of rape, abuse, shame.

At the launch participants were also asked to literally wear high heels (which were provided) before entering the 'In Her Heels' training space. Nearly a hundred people participated.

14th August 2013 by NSWP

Tanzania should decriminalise consensual adult sex work by removing or modifying article 176(a) of the Tanzania Penal Code and 181(a) of the Zanzibar Penal Code, which criminalises sex work, as well as other laws related to sex work that may infringe on human rights, including laws on “harbouring prostitutes” and “living off the earnings of prostitution,” Human Rights Watch has said in a July 18 report.

28th July 2013 by NSWP

PRESS RELEASE ON K24’s FEATURE, BWETA LA UHALIFU: NDOA HADAA

We, the undersigned, having noted with concern, the recent feature story by K24 TV’s Bweta La Uhalifu: Ndoa Hadaa, aired on Monday and Tuesday, July 8-9, 2013, at prime time, where they showed various sex work hotspots in Nairobi’s CBD, and having exposed the faces of some of the female sex workers and their clients, including their lodgings, wish to condemn the blatant exposure of the persons featured in this documentary by K24 and general content and messaging of the feature.

We note:

The disregard by the journalists and producers by showing, on live television, the faces of women who sell sex thereby exposing them to risk such as beatings, rejection, shame and discrimination.

The use of tricks by the show’s producers to blackmail and entice the sex workers into giving their personal stories and using hidden cameras, to capture faces and locations, is also suspect and in clear violation of journalism ethics and practices. 

The decision to show public exposure by some of the sex workers on live television was demeaning and dangerous to young persons who watch the show.

9th July 2013 by NSWP

ACCRA, GHANA - USING INNOVATIVE outreach and targeted counselling, peer educators have helped bring about a nearly 30 percent drop in HIV infection rates among Ghana’s sex workers over the past six years.

Thanks to effective campaigns by groups like The West Africa Program to Combat AIDS and STI (WAPCAS), HIV prevalence among female sex workers in Ghana fell from 37.8% in 2006 to 25% in 2009, then further to 11.2%, two years later, according to the National AIDS Commission.

Because sex work is illegal in Ghana, females engaged in the trade are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse which they cannot report because they have little legal recourse.

20th June 2013 by NSWP




TANZANIAN POLICE torture, rape and assault sex workers, sexual minorities and drug users, while medical staff deny them healthcare, undermining efforts to reduce HIV infection, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Tuesday.

20th June 2013 by NSWP

NSWP has received short term funding from the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund (RCNF) to support our regional networks in identifying and documenting good practice in sex worker led HIV programming; sex workers access to treatment and the impact of free trade agreements; and the impact of HIV programming for sex workers that fails to reflect a rights based approach.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS:  Friday, 12 April 2013 @ 24.00.

26th March 2013 by NSWP

The African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) appointed a new Regional Coordinator, Daughtie Ogutu in November.

Daughtie stated on her appointment:

'I am looking forward to a wonderful, fulfilling experience at ASWA. My dream is to take ASWA to a level that is unimaginable, explore a platform and arena where sex workers issues are tabled and discussed without frowned faces and prejudices. My dream is to have an African sex workers movement that is recognized a world leader and agent of change and has the power to influence through collective action and responsibility. I endeavour to build a PanAfrican Sex Worker leadership team that is guided by feminist principles.'

You cna read all of her opening words on the ASWA website here.

21st January 2013 by NSWP

Reports from Kenya are emerging of police blocking and barricading sex workers who were demonstrating today against the recent murders of colleagues and attending the burial of one sex worker.

The protesters had been granted a permit by the police to have a procession in the town of Thika today, and were then planning to continue to the funeral of their colleague.  The police however barricaded more than 300 sex workers at the mortuary.  John Mathenge said the police, some brandishing guns, had threatened demonstrators with tear gas. 

KEWSA, who organised the demonstration in Thika, later addressed the media and demanded police action to investigate the murders.  You can see the ASWA & KESWA press statement on the murders here.

Read more about today's demonstration in Identity Kenya.

18th September 2012 by NSWP

Africa Sexworkers Alliance (ASWA) and Kenya Sexworkers Alliance (KESWA) condemn the killings of sex workers in Mombasa over the last 2 months. This is a violation of Human Rights and proves that sex workers lives and welfare is a great concern to the entire nation.

KESWA has been on the forefront fighting against the discrimination of sex work to avoid such forms of inhuman acts while preventing such occurrences in future. We urge the community, Police and fellow sex workers to help bring the culprits to book. Today it might be her, tomorrow you, me or your own brother or sister.

KESWA demands for quick action and justice, in this regard KESWA is going to hold a peaceful demonstration in Mombasa on Saturday starting at Magongo to Changamwe Police Station, “SEX WORKERS RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS AND ONLY RIGHTS CAN STOP THE WRONGS”.

KESWA invites all sex workers and the community at large to join us to stop violence against sex workers who are also human beings. They are our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers! Who will protect us the sex workers? Who will listen to our cry?

John Mathenge                                                          Phelister Wamboi

Act. Regional Coordinator, ASWA                              KESWA Coordinator

7th September 2012 by NSWP