28 February 2012:

Sisonke Botswana Association – a network of sex workers in Botswana, in partnership with the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) will commemorate International Sex Workers Rights Day on Saturday the 3rd of March 2012 under the theme; Sex Worker Rights Equal Human Rights. The commemoration is aimed at highlighting the vulnerabilities of sex workers to various forms of violence as well as the risk of HIV infection.

In commemoration of this day, the two organizations have organised and invited various stakeholders to participate in a march to commence at 6am from the National Stadium to the Main Mall open space in front of President Hotel, where information regarding sex workers’ rights will be disseminated to the public.

According to Sisonke’s Project Coordinator, Tosh Legoreng, the objective of the march is to raise awareness on sex worker’s rights. “Like our counter parts on the African continent sex work and sex workers rights are not observed, recognised or enshrined in the constitution of member states, thus making this profession taboo and punishable under current laws. In celebrating the international sex workers rights day, we stand in solidarity with others sex worker organisation and observe the sterling work we are doing in the promotion of sex workers rights”, she said.

The Executive Director of BONELA which currently nests Sisonke, Uyapo Ndadi, echoed these sentiments expressed by Sisonke. He said that “BONELA ‘s position on sex workers’ rights seeks to ensure that all people have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services. This approach thus gives all human beings, regardless of, colour, creed, race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation equal opportunity to access sexual and reproductive health services without fear, judgment, prejudice, stigma and discrimination. The criminalization of sex work in Botswana leaves sex workers vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse, extortion from law enforcement agents and other human rights violations and lack of safe and supportive working conditions which render sex workers particularly vulnerable to HIV.”

The event is open to the public who are important stakeholders in the current discourse on decriminalization of sex work, to enhance their understanding of the issue as they are often the end point in social justice and tolerance for stigmatized and vulnerable communities. The media is also requested for coverage on this important day.