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The African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA), with support from the Key Populations Representation Evidence and Advocacy for Change in Health Programme (KP REACH), has published a study on violence against sex workers in Africa. Among the issues cited by sex workers as exacerbating violence against them are criminalisation and stigma, which impact access to health services and other amenities.

Theme: Violence

Human Rights Watch and the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) have released a new report recommending the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa, in order to protect the safety and wellbeing of women, and respond to the HIV pandemic.

This shadow report was submitted by Congolese sex worker-led organisations UMANDE and ACODHU-TS during the 73rd CEDAW Session, which took place June-July 2019.

Theme: Human Rights

Sex workers in Mozambique experience high levels and multiple forms of violence. Despite constant dialogue with the Government, the police act as protectors of sex workers, but they can also be perpetrators of violence. The relationship between sex workers and health unit professionals can also be problematic. This shadow report, submitted by sex worker-led Mozambican organisation Tiyane Vavasate Association during the 73rd CEDAW Session, which took place June-July 2019, highlights these issues.

Theme: Human Rights

Sisonke-Botswana and Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV and AIDS (BONELA) submitted this shadow report during the 72nd CEDAW Session, which took place February-March 2019. The report elaborates on the situation of cisgender and transgender women who are sex workers in Botswana. The report focuses the criminalisation of sex work; violence, abuse, and failure to act on reports of violence by police; stigma and discrimination faced by sex workers in accessing health services, and lack of free antiretrovirals for migrants.

Theme: Human Rights

The Kenya Sex Worker Alliance (KESWA) and Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme, with support from NSWP and CREA, submitted this shadow report to the 68th CEDAW Session, which took place October-November 2017. Titled “Aren’t We Also Women,” the report incorporates quotes from sex workers and is based on desk research and extensive interviews with KESWA member organisations.

Theme: Human Rights

The Nigeria Sex Workers Association- Precious Jewels (NSWA) submitted this shadow report to the 67th CEDAW Session, which took place in July 2017. The report focuses on the impact of stigma, penalisation and discrimination on female sex workers' ability to access HIV prevention and health services, and their vulnerability to HIV and violence at the hands of police. The report also provides background information about NSWA and economic, health, and population context in Nigeria.

Theme: Human Rights

The Kenyan Network of Sex Workers, including KESWA and the Bar Hostess Empowerment & Support Programme, has submitted this document to the CEDAW Working Group which will review Kenya in November 2017.

Theme: Human Rights

The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), along with the Red Umbrella Programme, a network of 19 South Africa sex worker programmes and 560 peer educators supported by SWEAT, has developed this guide on best practices to comprehensive sex work programming. The guide provides an overview of meaningful sex worker involvement and strategies of moving from programmes “for” to programmes “with” and “by” sex workers.

Download this resource: PDF icon Good Practice Guide, SWEAT - 2015.pdf
Theme: Health

The Women's Legal Centre has published their report on Police Abuse of Sex Workers in South Africa. The Women's Legal Centre is an organisation working to ensure that women in South Afica can live free from violence in safe housing, are free to own property, are empowered to ensure their own reporductive health rights, and are able to work in a safe and equal environment. Their report shows that 414 sex workers reported various types of violence perpetrated by police between 2011 and 2015.

Theme: Violence

The National Empowerment Network for Persons Living with HIV and AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK), the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA), the Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) and the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) have published their report Speaking Out: Personal Testimonies of Rights Violations Experienced by Sex Workers in Kenya. This report focuses on human rights violations among female sex workers living with HIV. It is based on a literature review and interviews conducted in May 2014 among 30 sex workers living with HIV in six counties: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Machakos, Kisumu, and Busia. 

Theme: Human Rights

Ishtar Lakhani from SWEAT and Duduzile Dlamini from SISONKE provide an overview of the programming at Mothers for the Future in South Africa. Mothers for the Future is a sex worker-led organisation run by mothers who do sex work. They show how mothers resist oppression and make tangible differences in the lives of mothers. This article was published as a part of Research for Sex Work 15: Resistance and Resilience.

Theme: Human Rights

This policy brief on the Decriminalisation of Sex Work in Kenya was written in collaborartion with the University of Amsterdam and NSWP member HOYMAS and KESWA. This policy brief argues that sex workers have the same rights as other citizens in Kenya as outlined in the Kenyan Constitution. The brief describes key instances in which the rights of sex workers as defined by the Constitution are violated in Kenya.


This guide for journalisists was written and put together by individuals who work for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in South Africa that advocate for sex worker rights, and specifically the decriminalisation of sex work.  In their work, they have come across dangerous journalistic practices and unethical behaviour by journalists, writers, editors and researchers. They are part of a consortium of organisations that compiled a resource for journalists and writers entitled Sex Workers and Sex Work in South Africa – A Guide for Journalists and Writers.

Theme: Human Rights

Ugandan sex worker-led organisation WONETHA developed this organisational policy for visiting researchers and professionals. The resource takes the form of a contract, for individuals to sign prior to engaging with WONETHA.

Theme: Human Rights

The decriminalisation of sex work could avert HIV infections by 33- 46% in the next decade, according to a new study published in The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal.”

July 29, 2014 (Cape Town) –The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and Sisonke National Sex Worker Movement of South Africa welcome the imperative finding of the research series on HIV and Sex workers.

Download this resource: PDF icon SWEAT press release 29 July 2014.pdf

The African Sex Worker Alliance statement in response to the attack on the UN recommendations regarding decriminalisation. ASWA state that they "stand firmly against the radical move by former sex workers and campaigners in the global north, to protest against the decriminalisation of sex workers ... [including] our partners, employees, and clients".

Sex workers from KESWA and ASWA in Nairobi staged a protest marking International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on 17th December.  Thousands of sex workers joined with gay activists and organisations to condemn the ‘Kill the Gay, Uganda Bill’ and marched on City Hall. 

Download this resource: PDF icon DEC 17TH 2012 REPORT.pdf

This report summarises the deliberations of a one day event entitled “Labour of Love” held on 17th December 2010, hosted by Women’s Organization Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA) in partnership with Uganda Harmonized Rights Alliance (UHRA).  The event primarily sought to put a human face to the lives of sex workers as well as challenge the public silence on violence against them. The forum was attended by 55 participants, including sex workers, brothel owners and human rights activists. The event was organised against the background that sex workers have continuously suffered from abuse, discrimination and violence which often goes unreported and unacknowledged.  In particular, the event illuminated the achievements, coping mechanisms, challenges and recommendations regarding sex work.

Intervention by Martine Ago, Ivory Coast:
The United Nations General Assembly
High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS


United Nations Headquarters
New York, USA, June 1, 2006

Your Excellency, the president of the United Nations General Assembly; Your Excellence, the Secretary General of the United Nations; and honored invitees, ladies and gentlemen:

I am Martine Ago, representative of sex professionals, from the Ivory Coast, a country that knows firsthand a military-political crisis with its crushing poverty, violence and degradation of the health system.

Theme: Health