Sex workers are calling for more prevention and sensitisation work during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following the recent death of a sex worker in Eastern DRC.
In a statement, which you can download below, representatives from ACODHU-TS, UMANDE, HODSAS, MOPREDES and Comités de Solidarité des travailleuses du sexe au Nord Kivu call for greater support from the government and international community to protect sex workers during the current Ebola outbreak. The groups highlight the particular situation in the east of the country, with particular emphasis on Bukavu in South Kivu and Goma in North Kivu, as they are considered 'sex work hubs'. The statement highlights that the area has a high number of migrant sex workers, as well as more than 10,000 Congolese sex workers, and without specific support programmes they are left vulnerable to the disease.
If all communities are affected by this epidemic and psychosis, they are not affected at the same level of vulnerabilities and risks. Facing the sexual immigration, the vulnerability, the stigmatization, the exclusion but especially the high risks of a daily meeting of a person infected by the Ebola virus, the sex workers are at the high risks to be infected. Unfortunately there is no specific program to prevent it by and for Congolese and immigrant sex workers working in Eastern DR.Congo.
The statement follows the death of a female sex worker in Mwenga on 16th August. Her 7 month old baby has been in quarantine since 17th August.
The statement calls for:
- specific interventions and sensitisation for the sex worker community working in the affected area and in border cities;
- a global action in the region be set up as soon as possible, working with sex workers through members of ACODHU-TS;
- the involvement of sex workers leaders in the joint strategy put in place by the WHO and the Congolese government;
- a specific response committee for sex workers.
You can download the full statement in English and French below.
To support this call for action please contact: UMANDE, firstname.lastname@example.org.