|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
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.
Sex Workers have been excluded in main forums and this partnership
will enable sex workers who identifies as LGBTI to come out and also
the organizations that deals with sexual orientation and gender
identity to create a platform for discussion. As one may fear
discrimination as they already stigmatized for not conforming to the