By Abel Shinana, African Sex Worker Alliance (ASWA) Co-ordinator
Allow me to forward a response in support of the article ‘KK renews call for prostitution to be legalized'. Honourable KK (Swapo Party MP Kazenambo Kazenambo) making this request for the “umpteenth time” in parliament showing his concern for fellow Namibian citizens based on the realities faced by Sex Workers in an unprotected work environment is not an issue that should be ignored or taken lightly.
According to the available studies, sex work takes place all over Namibia, although it is most visible in border areas, on transport corridors, in the port of Walvis Bay and in the capital, Windhoek. Vulnerability to a variety of health-risks is compounded by problems faced in accessing services, notably stigma and discrimination from health-care professionals, the excessive costs of obtaining services and often the non-availability of drugs and trained staff.
It is clear from several sources that some of the behaviors of law enforcement officers have little to do with upholding the rule of law and more to do with abusing gaps in the lack of recourse to justice suffered by sex workers. Routine reports of arbitrary violence and extortion against sex workers by police and ‘officers of the law’ continue to surface.
This is in fact a continent-wide epidemic which enforces silence in the face of subsidiary social crimes, such as child-abuse and trafficking, which take advantage of the lack of legal support for workers in the sex industries. Police violence against legally unprotected citizens - no matter what their work choices are - creates further violence and criminal abuse, making a mockery of the very concept of law enforcement.
Given the well-known risk and spread of HIV and sex workers being well placed - in reality as it is lived, not idealised through moral wish fulfillment - to deal with and work creatively in educating, advocating and supporting programs and initiatives designed to combat the spread of HIV, it is a matter of urgency that KK’s renewed calls for legalisation be heard and supported with a view to creatively dealing with an issue which is far larger than moral sanction against what is a working choice for many. It has far more to do with economic circumstance than moral poverty.
There is indeed moral poverty in not actioning this change in perception.
[This news article was sourced from Informanté: Sex work is work]
This letter was shortened by the Editor of Informanté.