16 Days of Activism

16 Days of Activism

16 Days of Activism is a global campaign mobilising individuals and organisations around ending gender-based violence. What does '16 Days of Activism' mean for us here at Aidsfonds? Continue reading to learn and see what you can do to join the global movement to #EndSexWorkViolence.

Keep an eye on this page, a new story is added each day from 25 November until 10 December 2019.

End violence against sex workers

Violence is one of the structural drivers that increases the risk of HIV infection among sex workers. It leads to inconsistent condom use, increased risk of infection, and prevents sex workers from accessing legal support and health care services. Large-scale research shows that if violence against sex workers is tackled, we can prevent up to 25% of new HIV infections. Aidsfonds stands strong against violence in all forms, and supports partners and sex workers in increasing awareness, implementing advocacy campaigns and sharing knowledge. From November 25th and December 10th Aidsfonds will raise attention by sharing life stories and achieved changes with our Hands Off programme, which focusses on the reduction of violence against sex workers. 

Approaches that work 

Female, male and transgender sex workers face high levels of violence, stigma, discrimination and other human rights violations. Aidsfonds strengthens sex worker-led networks in becoming a movement of sex workers with strong rights awareness. Together with partners, we set up rapid emergency response systems with peer educators and paralegals in the Hands Off countries, supporting survivors of violence and litigating human rights. We build relationships with police at community and national level, turning them from perpetrators of violence into allies in the HIV response. Aidsfonds is proud that violence has decreased at all sites where Hands Off was implemented, and that sex worker-led organisations achieved these results themselves!

Driving up impact

Sex workers report a reduction of violence where the sex worker movement has been strengthened, emergency systems have been set up, and the police has been engaged. A total of 1.523 cases of violence against sex workers were documented. This evidence was used in 163 lobby and advocacy initiatives rolled out by partners. In all Hands Off countries, several community-led crisis response systems have been set up. In South Africa, more than 153.000 police officers will be trained on the needs of sex workers

Stepping up the fight

The success of the Hands Off has shown that it is right to focus on structural drivers of HIV infection when working with sex workers. What we want to happen is that violence against sex workers at community, national and regional level is reduced. We will need to work towards a strong sex worker movement demanding its rights, and further increase access to health care services and support structures for sex workers. Together with partners, Aidsfonds will increasingly collaborate with community leaders and media, and influence decision-makers to create a more enabling environment for sex work. We demand that sex workers are protected and served by law enforcement. Lastly, we will roll out our successful approach to other countries.

Join the movement

Together, we can end the silence around gender-based violence against sex workers by listening to their stories and hearing what is often left unspoken. We need to give sex workers a platform to share their experiences, raising awareness for this issue. This movement mobilises organisations around ending violence against sex workers to give it the attention it urgently needs. Join the movement now #EndSexWorkViolence

Dive into real impact

Stay tuned... a new story is added each day until 10 December 2019.

3 successful approaches that reduce violence against sex workers (2/16)

What works in reducing violence against sex workers? Together with partners, we developed 3 successful approaches that reached 175.000 sex workers and address the structural determinants of violence. Dive in concrete actions, insights and lasting impact. 

3 approaches that reduce violence against sex workers

Sinanzeni - A life story from Zimbabwe (3/16)

"I like my purple hair because I like colourful things. Some of the men compliment me and tell me I’m beautiful. Other men ask me my rate and then beat me up.Sinanzeni from Zimbabwe. Read her full story. 

Sinanzeni's story

How to create communities of emergency responders (4/16)

Learn about a collaborative and community-led approach that provides rapid support to sex workers experiencing human rights violations such as extortion, physical abuse and rape. Over 47,000 sex workers were reached in 2 years. 

How to create communities of emergency responders

2 success approaches for legal justice (5/16)

Criminalisation of sex work often results in discrimination, stigmatisation and abuse from law enforcement. Human rights need to be protected by legal support systems. Read 2 success stories on creating legal justice for sex workers in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

2 success approaches for legal justice

“We sensitise members of parliament” (6/16)

 “Did I think I would be going to parliament and lobbying politicians around sex work? No, but here I am, making real change” Gavin, South Africa. Read a story of political change

AIDS response community-led work

“I feel strong now” (7/16)

I learned even more about our rights as sex workers but mostly what stands out for me is that we learned to talk about our feelings.” Nono, South Africa. Dive into her story of perseverance.

I feel strong now

4 steps for discrimination-free healthcare (8/16)

27% of sex workers were verbally abused by health workers. Read the story of SRC and Pow Wow mission training health professionals to treat sex workers with respect.

4 steps for discrimination-free healthcare

“I feel empowered to speak up and own my work” (9/16)

"I even went to Geneva this week to present to the UN about sex worker rights! If I think about wanting to do something that is hard, I think about what I have done with Hands Off and it gives me the courage to do it. It feels good to just talk. My story is out there now." Julia from Mozambique. Read a story of pride and exercising human rights. 

“I feel  empowered to speak up and  own my work” (9/16)

“Our health is the most important thing” (10/16)

"What I wish is that the police would stop harassing us and that our communities know that sex work is work." Lindiwe, Zimbabwe. Read her full story of legal justice

“Our health is the most important thing” Lindiwe, Zimbabwe

3 steps for successful collaboration between sex workers and police (11/16)

As a result of this approach, sex workers in Mozambique gained a voice in dealing with the police, police have turned from perpetrator to allies in the HIV response and violence is tackled effectively. Read the full approach now. 

3 steps for successful collaboration between sex workers and police

"Remove your uniform and be a human being" (12/16)

"Remove your uniform and be a human being. Let's engage police, health care workers, the media and religious leaders..." Watch Melissa's story of pride

“Sex work is my career. I chose my job” (13/16)

 "I learned about our rights, how we can take care of ourselves, how we can bank our money, how we can report abuse to the police." Aquila, SouthAfrica. Read her story of gender change & economic empowerment.

“Sex work is my career. I chose my job”

“If it were possible, I’d made a safe space for sex workers” (14/16)

"It’s not possible in our country, but if I could, I would make a safe space for sex workers to work in — a place where it was not criminalised." Atalia, Mozambique. Read her full story.

“If it were possible, I’d made a safe space for sex workers”

Successfully training South Africa's police to work with vulnerable communities (15/16)

Violence against sex workers decreased, LGBTI police officers feel safer, and training is included in police colleges and force's internal strategy. Access the full approach now. 

South African police and sex workers collaborating

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