Hands Off! Sex Work Botswana BONELA

Hands Off! Sex Work Botswana BONELA


Both BONELA and the sex worker-led organisation Sisonke implement the Hands Off! programme. Sisonke will provide health and human rights information and education for sex workers. This will be done by peer educators and paralegals during outreach in four sites. Lawyers will support sex workers to get their cases issued and will represent sex workers in court. To be able to respond to calls of violence, a rapid response system will be created. Furthermore BONELA and Sisonke will lobby with parliamentarians, policy makers and ministries on law reform, policies and practices involving sex workers.

Project details

Time frame
01 January 2015 - 31 July 2019
€ 420,251
Active in

Gaborone, Palapye, Francistown, Phikwe and Maun

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Hands Off! partners aim to reduce violence against sex workers through (sustainable) prevention, care and support. If sex workers are empowered and supported at individual and community level, (potential) allies are strengthened to respond to violence against sex workers and regional capacity and knowledge to promote sex workers’ rights is built then an enabling and supportive environment is created for sex workers' rights. Outcomes of BONELA include a strong sex worker movement in Botswana, allies in support of the legislation reform on sex work issues and increased access to necessary services for sex workers.

Community groups

40 sex workers will be trained on health, rights and safety. 7 para-legals in 4 districts. 16 support group meetings will be organised, reaching sex workers. Emergency response and safe houses will become available for sex workers who experience violence.


Sex workers face high levels of violence, stigma, discrimination and other human rights violations. Due to their position in society, sex workers are vulnerable to physical, sexual and emotional violence from clients, police, the community and their intimate partners. This ranges from beatings, robbery and rape to being arrested for carrying condoms and being arbitrarily detained or bribed. Violence often causes inconsistent condom use and stops sex workers from accessing necessary (legal) support and health care, making them considerably more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

In Botswana cases of violence experienced by the majority of sex workers are often of extremely serious and alarming nature. Legislation is promising on the position of sex workers. However, police arrests sex workers under bylaws. 1 in 4 people in Botswana lives with HIV. Among (female) sex workers HIV prevalence is even higher at 61.9%.

Report Sex Work and Violence Botswana


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

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