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Thursday, October 22, 2020
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Support for sex workers!

The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and Sisonke National Sex Movement are disturbed by the increase in violence towards female sex workers in South Africa.

Several incidents have been repeatedly reported regarding the criminalisation of sex workers which includes the recent one at Kenilworth, when a resident Tim Osrin, allegedly assaulted a 44 year old domestic worker whom he thought was a sex worker. 

Osrin attacked the woman in full view of the public; he belittled and insulated her just because he thought she's a"sex worker".

Sisonke and SWEAT have attempted to constructively

engage with the Kenilworth Ward councillor to ensure that safety of sex workers in the area; however the councillor refused to meet with them.

 "The behaviour of Osrin is the evidence of intolerant attitude of some of the Kenilworth community that continually harass sex workers or domestic workers, we are all human beings deserving of our human rights respected," said Kholi Buthelezi, National Coordinator for Sisonke.

On 13 October, in a separate event, a 24 year old woman committed suicide at the magistrate while waiting to appear on charges of loitering and possession of drugs.

The woman was one of the seventy (70) alleged sex workers who were rounded in Krugersdorp, Gauteng after the Krugersdorp South African Police Service (SAPS) raided the streets where sex workers operate.

"Municipal by-laws are often used to harass sex workers, they are seen by sex workers as a proxy for being arrested for sex work. While we don't know why this young woman committed suicide, it is probably safe to say that if it was not for criminalisation of sex work, she would not have died," said Stacey, Acting Director at SWEAT.

Sisonke and SWEAT call on the independent Police Investigative Directorate to thoroughly investigate the suicide of the 24 year old woman, and to publically release the findings of their investigation to ensure the safety of alleged sex workers in the Kenilworth area as a matter of urgency.

Cherith Sanger, Attorney and Advocacy Manager at SWEAT said, "The laws used to arrest alleged sex workers are outdated, implementable and persistently violate sex workers human rights. Under criminalisation sex workers have suffered immensely from police brutality, unlawful arrests and violence from clients and pimps".

Support for decriminalisation of sex work is growing. The World Health Organisations recommends that sex work should be decriminalised and respected. 

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