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Sex Work in the SADC Region: The Importance of Creating a Framework to Protect Sex Workers from HIV and Human Rights Abuses

Malone, Karen LU (2010) JAMM04 20101
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Sub Saharan Africa is the region most affected by HIV in the world. There is evidence that commercial sex work is a significant factor in many countries and preventing HIV infection amongst those involved in the sex trade has proven to be an instrumental part of many countries’ fight against AIDS. However these preventative measures cannot be implemented effectively with the current lack of legal protection available to sex workers within the SADC region, and leaves this already vulnerable group unable to protect themselves and their clients from HIV infection.
After examining the legal position of sex workers in each of the SADC countries, in conjunction with individual research projects and the descriptions of public attitudes, the... (More)
Sub Saharan Africa is the region most affected by HIV in the world. There is evidence that commercial sex work is a significant factor in many countries and preventing HIV infection amongst those involved in the sex trade has proven to be an instrumental part of many countries’ fight against AIDS. However these preventative measures cannot be implemented effectively with the current lack of legal protection available to sex workers within the SADC region, and leaves this already vulnerable group unable to protect themselves and their clients from HIV infection.
After examining the legal position of sex workers in each of the SADC countries, in conjunction with individual research projects and the descriptions of public attitudes, the following conclusions were drawn: 1) There has been very little research carried out with regard to sex workers, however what little research exists indicates very high levels of HIV among the sex worker population – HIV prevalence rates amongst sex workers as high as 86% in Zimbabwe and 70% in Namibia been recorded. 2) The legal position of sex workers varies in each of the SADC countries with eight countries having laws explicitly criminalising sex work. Similar reports of police harassment, client abuse, inadequate health care, and exploitative working conditions emerge throughout the region - even in countries where sex work is not regarded as a criminal offence. 3) Research indicated that sex workers throughout the region are often targeted indirectly by public by-laws such as public nuisance offences. 4) Public attitudes varied according to the country, but in general they were negative, this was a particular problem with regard to healthcare workers and the police force, which affected sex worker’s ability to access healthcare and police protection.
In view of the absence of research on sex work within SADC, it is impossible to determine how many sex workers are currently operating within the SADC region and how many are living with HIV or AIDS. From the limited research available, it is clear that sex workers have extremely high levels of HIV and should be the focus of social, legal and health interventions based firmly within a human rights framework. What is evident is that regardless of whether harmful legislation exists or not, sex workers are negatively affected to a similar degree. It is therefore imperative that not only is the industry decriminalized throughout the region, but that laws are put in place regulating the industry and providing sex workers with regular labour protections. (Less)
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author
Malone, Karen LU
supervisor
organization
course
JAMM04 20101
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
Human rights law
language
English
id
1685562
date added to LUP
2010-10-13 15:53:36
date last changed
2010-10-13 15:53:36
@misc{1685562,
  abstract     = {Sub Saharan Africa is the region most affected by HIV in the world. There is evidence that commercial sex work is a significant factor in many countries and preventing HIV infection amongst those involved in the sex trade has proven to be an instrumental part of many countries’ fight against AIDS. However these preventative measures cannot be implemented effectively with the current lack of legal protection available to sex workers within the SADC region, and leaves this already vulnerable group unable to protect themselves and their clients from HIV infection.
After examining the legal position of sex workers in each of the SADC countries, in conjunction with individual research projects and the descriptions of public attitudes, the following conclusions were drawn: 1) There has been very little research carried out with regard to sex workers, however what little research exists indicates very high levels of HIV among the sex worker population – HIV prevalence rates amongst sex workers as high as 86% in Zimbabwe and 70% in Namibia been recorded. 2) The legal position of sex workers varies in each of the SADC countries with eight countries having laws explicitly criminalising sex work. Similar reports of police harassment, client abuse, inadequate health care, and exploitative working conditions emerge throughout the region - even in countries where sex work is not regarded as a criminal offence. 3) Research indicated that sex workers throughout the region are often targeted indirectly by public by-laws such as public nuisance offences. 4) Public attitudes varied according to the country, but in general they were negative, this was a particular problem with regard to healthcare workers and the police force, which affected sex worker’s ability to access healthcare and police protection.  
In view of the absence of research on sex work within SADC, it is impossible to determine how many sex workers are currently operating within the SADC region and how many are living with HIV or AIDS. From the limited research available, it is clear that sex workers have extremely high levels of HIV and should be the focus of social, legal and health interventions based firmly within a human rights framework. What is evident is that regardless of whether harmful legislation exists or not, sex workers are negatively affected to a similar degree. It is therefore imperative that not only is the industry decriminalized throughout the region, but that laws are put in place regulating the industry and providing sex workers with regular labour protections.},
  author       = {Malone, Karen},
  keyword      = {Human rights law},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Sex Work in the SADC Region: The Importance of Creating a Framework to Protect Sex Workers from HIV and Human Rights Abuses},
  year         = {2010},
}