History of the Sex Worker Rights Movement
The Organisation of Social Change in Indonesia (OPSI) is Indonesia’s national sex worker network. OPSI represents male, female and trans* sex workers working across all areas of the sex industry.
$carlet Timor, officially formed in 2009, is a national sex worker collective based in Dili, Timor Leste. $carlet Timor, a peer-based network which includes female, male and trans* members, has worked in a capacity development partnership with Scarlet Alliance, the Australian sex workers association, and Timorese NGO, Fundasaun Timor Hari’i (FTH), to become a respected advocacy and service provision organisation.
Members of the African Sex Worker Alliance (ASWA) were among those who attended the parallel 'Freedom Festival of Sex Workers' in Kolkata (India). The festival has been hailed as the “alternative International AIDS Conference 2012 for sex workers and allies”. Many sex workers in Africa were refused a US visa to attend the 19th International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Washington DC in July.
On March 8, 2011 the Uganda Harmonized Rights Alliance celebrated International Women's Day by donating to the Nsambya Babies Home, run by a local church in Kampala (Uganda). The group which advocates for the rights of sex workers handed over goods worth three million shillings, which included Pampers, drinks, soap and many others.
In November 2010 a conference for the Commercial Sex Workers Leadership Institute [SWLI] was cancelled on the orders of the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Nsaba Buturo.
In an official letter to the Serena Victoria Hotel (Kampala), where the conference was meant to be held, Buturo wrote:
“It has come to my knowledge that an organisation known as Akina Mama Wa Africa is planning to conduct a seminar for prostitutes at your hotel from the 18th to 20th November 2010. I am reliably informed that participants will come from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. If this information is correct and we will soon find out, I should inform you that prostitution is a criminal offence in Uganda. By allowing your premises to Akina Mama Wa Africa for purposes of conducting this seminar, it is concluded that the hotel is an accomplice in an illegality.
“My work as a male sex worker activist focuses on Africa mostly because in Africa, sex work is mostly associated with female sex work and most male sex workers are largely ignored; the voice of the male sex worker rights movement is not heard as prominently as it should; the same can be said of transgender sex workers”, said John Mathenge Mukaburu, who is the coordinator of the Kenyan Sex Workers Alliance.
In 2010, eight sex workers were reported murdered in the tiny town of Thika (Kenya). Jacqueline Wambui (25) (photographed) was one of the victims of confessed serial killer Philip Onyancha.
In the months leading up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, international media postulated that at least 40,000 foreign sex workers would enter South Africa, and that an increased HIV incidence would follow.
In September 2009, 15 Nikat Charitable Association members graduated in basic computer applications at their Drop in Centre in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
“I wasn’t doing sex work long before I heard about Nikat. They gave me training to use a computer and I worked for a year and a half using those skills”, said *Helen [video], who is one of the 9000 young women and girls who make a living from sex work in Addis Ababa.