sex work

arvan's picture

Push To Protect Sex Workers During World Cup

By Davison Makanga

CAPE TOWN, Dec 4 (IPS) - As the 2010 Soccer World Cup approaches, calls for the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa have been renewed.

A steering committee has been set up with a mandate to push for reforms with the police commissioner and legislature before the world soccer showcase. Sex workers and activist organisations say the World Cup is an opportunity to decriminalise their trade.

"I have seen my colleagues harassed by the police and I have also experienced that," said Anna Sibisi*, a sex worker for the past eight years in Cape Town. "I would like to see this end before the World Cup."

Well aware of the resistance to changing the law, sex workers are pushing for at least a moratorium on arrests during the soccer event.

"We should be given temporary licences to operate during the World Cup as they map the long term plans," Sibisi said. She sees the World Cup as a chance to work uninterrupted and "make lots of money."

In South Africa, sex workers face a jail term if charged for at least three times. Fines of up to 200 dollars are paid on initial arrests.

arvan's picture

Trying to give sex workers safer alternatives in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG, 17 November 2009 (PlusNews) - A plan by Malawi to offer prostitutes low-interest loans to start small businesses in return for abandoning sex work is generating controversy in a country where women are disproportionately affected by high rates of poverty and HIV.

"Most [sex workers] leave school at an early age, get pregnant, and then have to provide for a child, so they end up on the streets as a way to earn a bit of money," said Ayam Maeresa, special assistant to the Minister of Gender, Children and Community Development, Patricia Kaliati, who proposed the plan after discussions with sex workers, most of whom said they had been driven into prostitution by poverty.

The plan aims to economically empower female sex workers and reduce the spread of HIV, but critics question whether it can achieve either of these goals when there are so few opportunities for Malawian women to earn more than they do from prostitution.

"If we help them to get out of this trade, we'll also be helping to control the spread of HIV," Maeresa told IRIN/PlusNews.  He was vague about what type of businesses the women would be encouraged to set up, saying only that several NGOs had indicated they would provide business management training.

arvan's picture

Senator Msane: Help Sex Workers

By Mantoe Phakathi

MBABANE, Nov 12 (IPS) - It is one of the world's oldest professions, dating so far back that it is even mentioned in the Bible. But in the deeply cultural and religious country of Swaziland, Senator Thuli Msane stirred a hornet's nest when she publicly challenged a new strict bill opposing prostitution.

Msane spoke out against arresting sex workers, when she said government should first address the humanitarian challenges that drive them into the trade.

She was responding to the new proposed legislation, the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill, 2009. The Bill imposes a six-year imprisonment on conviction, or a fine of approximately 2,000 dollars, on people who earn a living from sex work.

The Bill, which will be debated in parliament soon, also imposes a maximum sentence of 25 years and a fine of just over 13,000 dollars on those who perpetuate the trade through running brothels and using children as sex workers.

arvan's picture

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Sex Worker’s Outreach Project - Tucson

Please Join Us December 17, 2009 for the
International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
Event in Tucson, Arizona!

In 2009, sex workers from around the globe met gruesome deaths and endured unspeakable violence.  Some died at the hands of a solitary perpetrator; others were victims of serial “prostitute killers.”  While some of these horrific stories received international media attention (Boston, Grand Rapids, Albuquerque, Tijuana, Hong Kong, Moscow, Great Britain, Cape Town, New Zealand), other cases received little more than a perfunctory investigation.  Many cases remain unresolved, sometimes forever.

In fact, most violent crimes against sex workers remain unreported.  Stigma and decriminalization facilitate this violence; when sex work is criminalized, prostitutes can't turn to the police for protection without risking prosecution themselves.  Sex workers remain one of the largest marginalized populations in existence without the benefit of the basic civil rights that everyone else takes for granted.

Each year, December 17th marks the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.  Last year’s event in Washington, D.C. was a big success and this year, sex workers and their allies from across the U.S. will gather together in Tucson, Arizona to remember and honor sex workers who have been victimized by virtue of their chosen profession - including rape, assault and murder.

arvan's picture

CALL FOR PAPERS “Demystifying Sex Work and Sex Workers”

Special Issue for Wagadu, Journal of Transnational Women’s and Gender Studies, Edited by Susan Dewey, Ph.D. (University Studies, DePauw University)

Sex workers throughout the world share a uniquely maligned mystique that simultaneously positions them as sexually desirable and socially repulsive.  In order to better understand how these processes function cross-culturally, this special issue of Wagadu invites papers focusing upon the everyday lives of sex workers, broadly defined as those who exchange sexual services for something of value.

While recent years have witnessed a dramatic outpouring of feminist scholarship on sex work (Bernstein 2007; Day 2007; Doezema 2001; Kempadoo 2005, 1998; Kuo 2002; Munro and Della Giusta 2008), much of this literature unintentionally reinforces the social stigmatization of sex workers by depicting them solely through their income-earning activities. 

arvan's picture

Increased condom use among sex workers but more education needed

ADDIS ABABA, 23 October 2009 (PlusNews) - With non-skilled jobs in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, paying as little as US$16 per month, the financial incentives to engage in commercial sex work are overwhelming - earning 30 times a domestic worker’s salary.

Many of the women entering into sex work in Addis are rural migrants who have failed to secure formal employment, or are escaping poor-paying jobs in the city or unwanted marriages in the country, according to a 2008 article published by the UK's Royal Geographical Society.

Teguest, a 16-year-old girl from Gonder, a town 700km northwest of Addis Ababa, fled to the capital four months ago after the death of her parents and a dispute with her brothers.

The relative she contacted in the capital was already engaged in sex work, so the decision to enter the trade was an easy one. Teguest charges 10 Ethiopian Birr or $0.80 per client and has sex with as many as 20 men a day in her tiny room; she is adamant that under no circumstances would she have unprotected sex.

"No, I would not do that for any money. I need my life," she said. "They sometimes offer 200 Birr [$16] and beg me, but life is more important than money."

Teguest says in the past four months, at least 10 men have asked her for unprotected sex at a higher fee.

arvan's picture

Pay As You Go: Sex Worker Shorts at UnionDocs, October 24

Pay As You Go: Sex Worker Shorts

Saturday, Oct. 25 - 6pm & 8:30pm

Union Docs

322 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Suggested donation $7 per show, $10 double feature price.  Special free panel discussion at 7:30pm between the programs.

PROGRAM 1: 6:00 – 7.30 pm

You Must Know About Me by HOPS and WITNESS. Macedonia, 2009 (18 mins) DVD

“You Must Know About Me” features interviews with sex workers from Skopje, focusing on 3 main themes: Their family lives, the conditions they work under, especially the violence and discrimination they face from police officials as well as some clients, and lastly, the ramifications of a big raid that happened in November 2008. Several sex workers were arbitrarily arrested, held in detention overnight, forcibly tested for STDs and, to add insult to injury, unwillingly featured in national media that had been tipped off, and was waiting as they exited the clinic.

Laura Agustín's picture

Exiting in the opposite direction: from maids to sex workers in Ethiopia

(Posted at Border Thinking on Migration, Trafficking and Commercial Sex)

Pious commentary on prostitution often revolves around the concept of Exit Strategies: getting out of the sex industry.  Everyone agrees that anyone who doesn’t want to sell sex shouldn’tfeel forced to and should be helped to get out.  Quite right.  And what about people who’d like exit strategies to get out of other unpleasing jobs?  Many assume that prostitution is particularly difficult to get out of, especially ensnaring and fraught with obstacles, even when there are no exploiters stopping people from changing occupations (pimps or traffickers).  Obviously when people are too poor, not only in terms of money but also in terms of social capital - contacts, information, resources, ideas - it is misleading to talk about ‘choice’, as though a lot of easy alternatives were lying about. I usually talk about preference, instead: the fact that those with limited options nevertheless can prefer one to another.

arvan's picture

Police Force HIV Tests for Sex Workers

By Charles Mpaka

LILONGWE, Oct 10 (IPS) - It was, Malawian police say, a routine sweep for criminals at one of the country’s busiest border posts. They were looking for criminals.

But when the police arrested 14 prostitutes as part of their search, and then allegedly forcefully tested them for HIV and charged them for "deliberately trading in sex while having a sexually transmitted disease", human rights organisations had to step in.

The forceful HIV testing of the women was a violation of the women’s rights, human rights organisations say. But Malawian police have claimed that it was nothing more than just a routine part of their of job.

But human rights organisations in Malawi want the police to answer a few vital questions about the circumstances surrounding the women’s HIV tests.

Early this month, in a routine sweep for criminals, police in the southern region of Malawi combed the town of Mwanza, one of the two busiest border posts through which Malawi receives and sends large volumes of cargo.

arvan's picture

Canada's Anti-Prostitution Laws Being Challenged

Criminalization of prostitution in Canada has pushed sex workers into the status of 'unknown'.  In that place, they are unprotected by police from murder, rape, torture, beatings and more.  They are unable to access health care whether routine or to treat the violence they endure. 

"Whatever your moral principles, whatever you think of prostitution, whatever you think an “ideal” sex trade would look like or whether there would be one at all, we cannot possibly do worse at protecting vulnerable women than we are now." (National Post)

Robert Pickton has admitted to killing 49 sex workers.  How many more - we don't know.  He was neither the first nor the last person to prey violently on sex workers in Canada under the benefit of the laws which so drastically criminalize sex workers - and probably not even the worst.

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