Hands Off II Sex work South Africa

Hands Off II Sex work South Africa


Violence against sex workers in South Africa takes on extreme forms and 71 percent of sex workers have experienced violence. Within three years, 118 sex workers have died as a result of violence. To reduce violence against sex workers, Sisonke (national sex worker-led group), SWEAT (national NGO) and Aidsfonds focus on building an empowered and resilient sex worker movement. Activities include capacity building of Sisonke’s staff and resource mobilisation support. Both SWEAT and Sisonke will organise creative spaces; workshops in which topics such as sexual health and rights are discussed with sex workers. National and regional lobby will continue to address the bylaws that are now used to arrest sex workers and through engaging with police SWEAT and Sisonke will increase police protection of sex workers.

Project details

Time frame
01 August 2019 - 31 July 2024
€ 360,000
Active in
South Africa

Cape Town, Northern Cape, Western Cape

Show location details


Hands Off 2 partners work to reduce violence against sex workers at community, national and regional level. Outcomes of partners in South Africa include an empowered and resilient national sex worker movement, increase access to justice, a more enabling environment for sex workers and sex workers protected by law enforcement.

Community groups

The programme’s primary target group is female, male and transgender sex workers, meaning those who receive money or goods in exchange for sexual services, either regularly or occasionally. SWEAT and Sisonke also target high-level politicians, policy makers and the general public with their activities.


Due to the illegal status of sex work, sex workers experience difficulties in accessing health, social services and in seeking justice and legal compensation. HIV prevalence amongst sex workers is disproportionally high (57.7 percent) and more than a third of HIV positive sex workers do not have regular access to treatment.

Most sex workers in South Africa are female. Around four percent of sex workers is transgender and five percent are male sex workers. Sex workers mostly work from streets, in brothels and through escort agencies as well as from truck stops and the informal red light districts known in all major cities.

News, stories and resources from this project

Best_practice Hands Off II Sex work South Africa 19 August 2019

A story of change: Joining forces to seek justice in South Africa

Aidsfonds supported the efforts of Sisonke and SWEAT to ensure that sex wor...
Story Hands Off II Sex work South Africa 19 August 2019

Sex work gave me the freedom to do what I wanted to do

I grew up very close to my family. I live in a cottage on the family property no...
Report Hands Off II Sex work South Africa 31 July 2018

Sex work and violence in South Africa

This report presents the main findings of a study in South Africa examining viol...

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