Hands Off II: reducing violence against sex workers

Hands Off II: reducing violence against sex workers


Building on the success of the first phase of Hands Off, Hands Off 2 (2019-2024) works directly with sex worker-led groups, police and NGOs working on human rights and health services to reduce violence against sex workers. Based on sex workers’ own priorities and needs activities implemented under the programme include rights literacy training and capacity building of sex worker movements, strengthening emergency response systems and roll out of national, regional and global lobby for law and policy reform.

Program details

Time frame
01 August 2019 - 31 July 2025
€ 6,000,000
Active in
Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe


The Hands Off 2 programme works to reduce violence against sex workers at community, national and regional level. Specific long-term outcomes include: 1) an empowered and resilient sex worker movement that demands its rights, 2) increased access to and use of inclusive services for sex workers, 3) a more enabling environment for sex work, and 4) sex workers protected and served 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. Hands Off is implemented in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


Modelling estimates show that a reduction of almost 25 percent in HIV infections among sex workers can be achieved when physical or sexual violence is reduced. The first phase of the Hands Off programme has proven that a combination of engagement with police in the HIV response, setting up emergency response systems and movement building results in reduced violence against sex workers.

Sex workers who work in countries where sex work is criminalised are more vulnerable to violence and abuse and have an increased risk of HIV infection. Violence can lead to inconsistent condom use and stops sex workers from accessing health care services and social and legal support that can help protect them from HIV. In Southern Africa almost 70 percent of sex workers report having experienced violence. This ranges from beatings and rape to being arrested for carrying condoms and being arbitrarily detained.

Hands Off I lessons & best practices

Read best practices and lessons learned on reducing violence against sex workers from the Hands Off programme (2015-2019). Aidsfonds and fourteen in-country partners, including many sex worker-led organisations, share their success and insights on what works to prevent violence. Learn more on topics, such as working with the police to reduce violence, community-led crisis response systems amd increasing access to justice. 

What works to reduce violence against sex workers

News, stories and resources from this program

Other Hands Off II: reducing violence against sex workers 06 February 2020

Call for nominations Hands Off II Advisory Committee

Aidsfonds seeks a candiadte for the gender-based violence seat on the Hands Off ...
Report Hands Off II: reducing violence against sex workers 31 July 2018

Sex work and violence in Southern Africa (regional report)

This report presents the main findings of a regional study in Botswana, Mozambiq...
Manual Hands Off II: reducing violence against sex workers 26 September 2018

Training manual Health, Rights and Safety

This manual was developed by Aidsfonds under the Hands Off programme. It support...


< 200,000 new HIV infections globally
Contributed within this program
Awareness, support in society, and full funding of the AIDS and STI response
Contributed within this program
Everyone living with HIV worldwide receives treatment
Contributed within this program

Projects within this programme

Hands Off II Sex work North Star Alliance

North Star Alliance provides health services to sex workers at Road Wellness Cli...

Hands Off II Sex work Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, around 63 percent of sex workers in Zimbabwe report having experien...

Hands Off II: reducing violence against sex workers

This programme is part of Hands Off II: reducing violence against sex workers

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