Tag Archives: decriminalization

The Anti- Sex Trafficking Movement and the Sex Workers Rights Movement Need to Work Together

First, I will address the anti- sex trafficking movement:

  • The fight against trafficking would be greatly aided by the decriminalization of prostitution.

Some trafficking victims have co-workers who do not identify as trafficking victims, who would be better able to help their co-workers escape exploitative situations if they were not at risk of arrest as a result of doing sex work.  Same with customers; if they did not fear arrest it would be easier for them to help those who disclose that they are in exploitative situations escape them.

  • The fight against trafficking would also be aided by the destigmatization of prostitution.  Furthermore, no sex worker or trafficking victim deserves the hate and shame that is dealt out to sex workers in this world.

Trafficking victims are often perceived as sex workers, or may even belong to both groups of people at different times in their lives, and neither group deserves that stigma.  The hate and shame keeps the industry underground as well, and makes it more difficult for sex workers to openly work to help people in exploitative situations.

  • Arresting sex workers and human trafficking victims is traumatic and a violation.

Trafficking victims are often arrested multiple times without ever being identified as trafficked.  Arrest is (or can be) traumatic for both sex workers and trafficking victims, and neither group does anything to deserve that.

  • The funding of raids causes more harm than good.

Raids are especially traumatic and are often accompanied by human rights abuses.  They lead to the arrest and deportation of both sex workers and trafficking victims who are not identified as trafficked.  Both sex workers and trafficking victims are treated as criminals.  Furthermore, many sex trafficking victims escape on their own or with the help of someone they know.  Even those who do not escape this way may have left if they knew they had somewhere to go.  Funding shelters, making the shelters safe (as shelter systems often aren’t) and funding good, voluntary social service outreach programs would be a more effective method of fighting trafficking and would have fewer unintended negative consequences than raids.

Next I will address the sex workers rights movement:

  • Trafficking is a horrendous crime.  Nobody should be subject to that kind of violation, and all decent people should work to end that suffering.

This one kind of goes without saying.

  • People in the anti-trafficking movement are capable of being great allies.

GAATW, many member organizations, and other organizations are already supportive of sex workers rights, for many of the reasons I have given above.  Other organizations may come around.

  • The anti-trafficking movement is relatively well-funded and is given quite a bit of public support.

Not only can those in the anti-trafficking movement be great allies, they are relatively powerful ones.

In short, we can better accomplish all our goals by working together.


Namibia: Legalize Sex Work to Combat AIDS: ‘Mama Africa’

Namibia:  Legalize Sex Work to Combat AIDS:  ‘Mama Africa’


WINDHOEK, 2 February 2012 – The Director of Namibia’s largest sex-workers’ organization, Rights not Rescue, has called upon the government to decriminalize sex work as an important step in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Nicodemus Aochumub, better known as ‘Mama Africa’, told Informanté:

“Government should decriminalize sex-work to make it easier for the industry to get access to universal health care and to enable them to lay charges with the police without the fear of being arrested.

Discriminating against sex workers will inevitably increase the HIV rate because they are helplessly exposed to abuse, even by police. We must unite in the fight against AIDS.”

Mama Africa, who has been in the industry for 32 years, knows of numerous instances where police humiliated and maltreated sex workers.

“How can we fight this deadly disease when law-enforcement officers take away condoms from the girls (sex workers)? They throw them away and tell us we don’t deserve to use condoms. Some police officers force us into sex, otherwise we will end up in jail,” the Director revealed.

Sex workers are regularly cracked down on by law-enforcers under the Combating of Immoral Practices Act. “This act is an apartheid law and must be abolished in an independent country. We (prostitutes) are not free even 21 years after independence. Prostitution is work and feeds many families,” emphasized Mama Africa.

Rights not Rescue has more than 1,000 members in all 13 regions of the country. The organization educates sex work on HIV and AIDS and also hands out condoms.

“We are trying our best to protect them and their health. One thing is for sure: Decriminalizing prostitution would make a great deal in the fight against this disease,” Mama Africa is convinced.

“We (sex workers) will throw our support behind those few more realistic and open-minded people like Kazenambo Kazenambo, whose only crime is to respect human rights,”  he added.

The Youth Minister came under fire from high ranking SWAPO politicians for speaking out in favour of the legalization of prostitution. According to Mama Africa, many of their clients are high-ranking and influential members of society, yet Namibian society lives in denial and turns a blind eye one the plight of sex workers.

HIV infection among sex-workers has declined significantly in countries where sex work is legalised. Sex workers in Germany, for instance, are registered with the legal and health authorities, are required to undergo regular medical checks and pay tax.

Once again, decriminalization is the system with the best outcomes, health and safety-wise, for sex workers and those in the sex trade.  Legalization systems like that in Germany are not the best systems for those outcomes because they set up a two-tiered system, of legal workers and illegal workers, with illegal workers still subject to police abuses and so forth.  Better systems are found in New Zealand and New South Wales, Australia, where prostitution is completely decriminalized.