Mickey Meji, leader of the SANAC sex work sector, said today:
“I have attended five SANAC meetings in the last 3 months to advise on how to improve the HIV response to sex work. My consistent advice was that while sex workers, their clients and partners remain criminals, no intervention would be effective. Decriminalisation was the key action needed. Government ministers, officials, other sectors and NGOs at the meeting endorsed this as a key evidence-based. Now, in one week, all that has dissolved.
It’s really very simple. South Africa has the world’s largest HIV epidemic. One in five new HIV infections is sex work-related. Something must be done. Yet the Government has changed the final draft of the National Strategic Plan to remove any trace of a commitment to end the criminalisation of sex workers and their clients.
Our constitution is a contract between government and the people. Sex workers and NGOs are delivering their side of the bargain, combatting the epidemic and educating sex workers and clients. Yet government has no plan, and the police target our outreach teams and seize our condoms as evidence of sex work taking place – effectively punishing poor, mostly women, who are trying to survive and put food on the table. The government has failed us”.
How the NSP drafters have gone back on their wordExtract from Draft 3 of the NSP 2012-2016 (pg 58)
In addition, there is a large body of evidence showing the negative impact of the criminalisation of adult sex work on sex workers and their clients, their other sexual partners and public health more broadly. Much of this was already known in 2007, resulting in the previous NSP’s recommendation that sex work be decriminalised. The DOJ&CD, working together with the South African Law Review Commission (SALRC), must take urgent steps to finalise the legislative reform process that began with SALRC Project 107 (Adult Prostitution). This must result in (a) the completion of the SALRC report on Project 107 by no later than 30 September 2012, and (b) the tabling of a bill to decriminalise adult sex work by no later than 15 December 2012. Thereafter, SANAC must closely monitor the law reform process in Parliament.
Extract from Final draft of the NSP 2012-2016 (pg 53)
In an attempt to address any barriers and shortcomings – legal, social or economic – that may exist and therefore could undermine the rights of individuals, reviews and assessments will be conducted over the five year lifespan of the NSP. In addition, audits of interventions related to HIV, STIs and TB by all stakeholders should be undertaken, using tools adopted by SANAC, to ensure that they comply with human rights. The results of such reviews and audits will inform the course of action to be recommended to all stakeholders as well as Cabinet for consideration.
... Decriminalization of sex work is a matter that has been a subject of debate and society should continue to deliberate on the matter until final resolution.
Contacts for media comments
Mickey Meji is available on 073 992 0478.
Sally Shackleton, Executive Director of SWEAT, is available on 082 330 4113
[Please find below a downloadable PDF version of the NSP on HIV, STIs, and TB 2012-2016, sourced from the SANAC website http://www.sanac.org.za/files/uploaded/NSPabf.pdf]
By Ester Lewis, IOL News
Harassment by police and humiliation at clinics mean just 5 percent of sex workers are getting health care.
This is according to research by the Sex Worker Education Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat), which says up to 60 percent of sex workers nationwide were HIV-positive and nearly 20 percent of all new infections were related to the industry through clients, partners, abuse and rape, according to its research.
Micky Meji, national co-ordinator of the Africa Sex Worker Alliance, said that adding to the infection rate was harassment by police, who often confiscated condoms from sex workers.
But City of Cape Town director of safety and security Richard Bosman said law enforcement officials didn’t confiscate condoms from sex workers.
Meji, a former sex worker, also claimed some police officers would force sex workers to have sex with them without the use of condoms, or face arrest.
She said a small number of sex workers accepted increased rates for unprotected sex with clients. Meji explained that if they had no clients, the need to feed their children often drove them to unprotected sex.
While the infection rate was high, Meji said the low number of sex workers seeking treatment was due to humiliation at clinics.
This was echoed in a submission by the Sonke Gender Justice Network to the African Regional Dialogue 2011.
The submission included several stories by sex workers about the abuses they faced when arrested, including being denied access to their medication and also ill-treatment at clinics.
A sex worker told the group that in May she went to a Khayelitsha clinic to be tested for a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
“The nurses treated me badly and embarrassed me (by) disclosing my result to everyone. According to my understanding, it is confidential,” said the woman.
This deterred her from seeking help at the clinic again.
Meji alleged that some women who visited clinics for STIs multiple times were refused treatment.
[This news article and accompanying photo were sourced from IOL.co.za http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/sex-workers-trapped-in-hiv-nightmare-1.1175758?showComments=true]
“When faced with questions about sexual history, it’s difficult for them. Some nurses refuse treatment until they bring in their sexual partners,” said Meji.
Department of Health spokeswoman Faiza Steyn said while people were urged to bring their partners to the clinic to be tested and treated, they could not be refused treatment. If there was any refusal of treatment, patients could report them to the Western Cape Health Independent Complaints Commission and the Human Rights Commission.
Sweat has partnered the NGO TB and HIV Care to provide screening programmes in Cape Town and Durban.
The HIV, STI and TB National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2012-2016 is the culmination of extensive review of documentation, consultation and deliberation over several months with a wide range of stakeholders. These processes were key to determine the strategic priorities in dealing with the dual epidemics of HIV and TB in South Africa.
The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), and more specifically its Programme Implementation Committee (PIC), has led this process. The PIC and the Plenary Committee of SANAC provided the overall guidance and framework for the NSP. One of the key decisions included the development of a single integrated strategy for HIV, STIs and TB for 2012-2016. This is primarily due to the high co-infection rate between HIV and TB.
The NSP 2012-2016 is the strategic guide for HIV, STI and TB initiatives for the next five years. It is results-based, focusing on the drivers of the epidemic to achieve the goals defined below. It builds on the achievements in the previous NSPs, scaling up what has been done well, and improving on the quality of services, while at the same time integrating new and proven strategies. The NSP is meant to respond to the changes in the epidemic and will therefore be reviewed periodically for relevance and effectiveness. It will be located within the broader development plan of government.
As a guide the NSP informs national and provincial stakeholder strategies and implementation plans. It will also be used by SANAC as the framework by which they will coordinate and monitor implementation.
Every government department, sector and provincial authority will need to develop implementation plans by March 2012.
The full draft is available below, and downloadable.
The HIV and AIDS, STI and TB (HAST) National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2012-2016 is the culmination of extensive review of documentation, consultation and deliberation with a wide range of stakeholders. These processes were key to determine the strategic priorities in dealing with the dual epidemics of HIV and TB in South Africa.
The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), and more specifically its Programme Implementation Committee (PIC), has led this process. The PIC and the Plenary Committee of SANAC has provided the overall guidance and framework for the NSP. One of the key decisions included the development of a single integrated strategy for HIV, STIs and TB for 2012-2016. This is primarily due to the high co-infection rate between HIV and TB, as well as HIV and STIs.
Under the leadership of the PIC, a small team was constituted to develop Draft Zero of the NSP 2012-2016. This draft will be used during August/September 2011 to consult with provinces, SANAC sectors, government departments and society in general to guide the development of the final NSP to be released on World AIDS Day 1 December 2011.
Draft Zero was developed using inputs from various SANAC sectors, solicited via a short template for contributions addressing: (a) the programmatic pillars of the NSP, (b) the five-year objectives, and (c) proposed indicators and five-year targets. Inputs were received from SANAC sectors and technical task teams, government departments, and development partners.
The full draft is available below, and downloadable.