Violence in Sex Work is real

26.07.2014 Violence in Sex Work is real

One of Sisonke members experienced a horrific, violent incident which landed her in hospital fighting for her life. She left for work on Friday 26 July 2014 at her usual spot in G-west. As she was working, she met a client and ended up taking him home with her. As soon as they finished on the agreed service, the client became violent towards her, and raped her several times. It came as a surprise to her; the person who was sweet and kind a moment ago changed to something else, she was overpowered and helpless.

As soon as he was done raping her, he punched her, kicked her like a punching bag. He then went on to take a screw driver to stab her on the ear ample times. And finally dragged her to the neighbor’s standpipe, put her under running water and left her to die. She was found by neighbors in the morning; she could not talk nor move. They called the police who were able to take her to Marina Hospital where she is getting medical attention but remains unconscious.

The culprit stole everything from her. Her passport, money and clothes were not recovered after the incident.

This is an example of what will continue to happen if the Government maintains that sex work is criminal. Sex workers will continue to be exploited and more vulnerable to STIs, HIV and all other different forms of violence. And culprits will live amongst us and go unpunished. This member for example, her perpetrator will walk freely if the victim is not able to identify him and might repeat the same thing to another person who might not even be a sex worker.

BONELA and Sisonke therefore urge the nation to be watchdogs for crimes of violence in order to improve human rights of key populations such as women and sex workers. We would also like to take this opportunity to show our sincere gratitude to Marina health care workers and the G-west police who have provided the necessary medical care and support and managed the situation from the beginning of this case.

SISONKE is a national organization established in 2010, which advocates for the rights of sex workers in Botswana. The founding members of SISONKE wanted to take responsibility for bringing about change within the sex worker community and stand up for their rights. Membership of SISONKE is made up of individuals, groups and organisations which share the same values with Sisonke. SISONKE is a nested partner within BONELA, an organization that advocates for equal human rights across stigmatized groups, which helps the organization realize its goals.