A new sex workers initiative in Botswana has included an LGBTI component in it’s programme. African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) is a Pan African movement and alliance for the rights of sex workers which was established in 2009 in Johannesburg South Africa, with a number of 105 sex workers from different countries in Africa.
Sisonke Botswana, a sex work group currently housed by Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), joined ASWA and dedicated a week to the mapping of sex workers rights in Botswana with the aim to forming a coalition which will advance the human health rights of most key population (sex workers, transgender, MSM and drug users).
The aim of the coalition is to end human rights violations of sex workers. “We met with Nkailela Trust, LeGaBiBo, BONELA, Rainbow Identity and YOHO. The reason we are inclusive of LGBTI is because they are sexual minorities and as sex workers we feel much comfortable working with them, plus they are also part of sex work”, said Kyomya Macklean ASWA’s regional coordinator She explained that Sex Work is widely misunderstood and is usually not recognized or accepted as a form of work because most of the time is considered as evil, deviant or immoral.
Sex work is mostly given the face of women or girls but many studies have revealed that sex work cross cut and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, there are male sex workers and LGBT sex workers. “I’m not a lesbian but when a client is female I do service the client, actually the LGBTIQ clients are the most payers, they pay more than the so called heterosexual client” said Macklean
Decriminalization of sex work and support from the civil society would build sex workers capacity to speak and act for themselves through forge of partnership within existing organizations where sex workers
are not given space.
“When we met with sex workers, some of them shared the stories of abuse and they did not know it was human rights violation as they felt as sex workers they do not have human rights” said Collie of Sisonke’s coordinator in South Africa.
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