African Sex Workers Protest Negative Media Reporting

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Regional Correspondent Africa

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’. Most journalists also continue to use the word ‘commercial’ when describing sex work.

It is such negative portrayal of sex workers in the media that the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA) wrote a protest letter to the Media Council of Kenya to condemn how reporting is done.

Other countries that continue to portray sex workers negatively include Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda.

To counter such media portrayal of sex workers in the media, Sonke Gender Justice, Sisonke Sex Worker Movement, Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce, and Women’s Legal Centre in South Africa, launched a guide for journalists and writers on reporting on sex work.

The guide provides basic information on how to report on sex work or about sex workers as well as how to correctly identify sex workers and most importantly, how protect the identities of sex workers who choose to speak to the media.