Hands Off wins the Lange/van Tongeren Prize

Hands Off wins the Lange/van Tongeren Prize

Aidsfonds uses the Hands Off model to reduce violence against sex workers. This model consists of three interventions, building a strong sex worker movement with rights awareness, setting up rapid emergency response systems through paralegals and peers, and turning the police into an ally. The abstract highlighting a distinctive component of the first phase of the Hands Off programme was awarded the Lange/van Tongeren Prize, which was announced  #AIDS2020 conference. The abstract was on creating communities of emergency responders to reduce violence against sex workers.

During the first phase, 65 different community-led crisis response systems were set up, among which drop-in centres and helplines. Trained sex worker paralegals documented 1.500 cases of violence, and provided court support in over 235 court cases. Crisis response teams consisting of sex workers, healthcare workers, police and influential community members ensured efficient referral and follow-up to HIV, psychosocial and legal services. Over 81 000 sex workers have accessed healthcare, psychosocial and legal services.

By decriminalising sex work and addressing physical and sexual violence, we can avert 33-46% of HIV infections. An independent study conducted where the Hands Off model has been implemented shows violence against sex workers has reduced.

“At the core of our work within Aidsfonds, we put communities first. Hands Off directly support sex workers to take the lead in HIV prevention and in ensuring that sex workers living with HIV have access to treatment. Informed by the needs of sex workers, the programme implements the Hands Off model to reduce violence against sex workers, one of the structural barriers to HIV prevention”, says Soraya Bouwmeester, our Sex Work Programme officer and recipient of the Lange/van Tongeren Prize.



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