WINDHOEK – The Namibian Sex Workers Coalition (NSWC) under the auspices of the African Sex Worker Alliance Namibia (ASWA) will observe international sex workers’ rights day tomorrow.
The day originated in 2001 when over 25 000 sex workers gathered in India for a sex worker festival. Organisers wanted to celebrate the lives of sex workers as well as highlight the determination and strength of sex workers.
Sex workers’ groups across the world have subsequently celebrated March 3 as International Sex Workers’ Rights Day.
At a breakfast meeting yesterday, sex workers movements such as the Red Umbrella, Rights not Rescued and ASWA, emphasised the importance of decriminalising sex work and respecting the rights and dignity of sex workers.
Nikodemus Aochamub, also known as Mama Africa, said sex workers often face harassment from the police and broader public.
They cannot report it since sex work is illegal in the country.
He cited the Namibian constitution, saying even “sex workers have fundamental human rights which should be adhered to”.
“Sex workers have the fundamental human right to live their lives and conduct their work free from all discrimination on the basis of the occupation of sex work and physical and emotional violence,” said Abel Shinana, Project Coordinator of ASWA Namibia.
He said people, places and activities associated with commercial sex must be subject to laws that protect sex workers’ rights, optimise their safety and reduce potential harm.
“This can be achieved by a well-planned, non-discriminatory application of labour, taxation, business and human rights law,” stated Shinana.
In addition, he said the imprisonment and harassment of sex workers, which includes forced rehabilitation and other forms of detention, has severe harmful effects on the human rights and health of sex workers and their families.
“This is especially so for sex workers living with HIV, transgender sex workers and sex workers who may use drugs,” he went on.
ASWA’s mission is, amongst others, to mobilise and capacitate African sex workers, to lobby on issues of health and human rights through the removal of structural and legal barriers as well as creating safe spaces where sex workers find a voice and act as leaders and agents of change.
During the commemoration of International Sex Workers Day in Namibia today (2 March), the following documents were launched: Literature Review 2011, National Sex workers Conference Recommendations 2011 and the Community Assessment 2011.