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Upcoming events and current media coverage relating to sex work and sex workers.

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THE Executive Director of the largest sex workers organisation in the country, Rights Not Rescue, Nicodemus 'Mama Africa' Aochamub says that decriminalising prostitution is better than legalising it.

Aochamub told The Namibian that "we are thankful that Kazenambo Kazenambo is brave to stand up for us, but we [prostitutes] prefer that sex work be decriminalised than be legalised."

According to Aochamub who has been a sex worker for the past three decades, legalising sex-work will put limitations on their work.

"With legalising, we will work under municipal laws such as registration of the sex workers with the relevant authorities, creating specific red-light districts and forcing us to do regular medical checks as well as to carry identification cards," reasoned Aochamub.

Aouchamub said that being confined to red-light districts and being required to register will negatively impact on prostitutes' meagre income.

FIREBRAND Swapo Party MP Kazenambo Kazenambo has repeated his appeal to Parliament that prostitution be legalised in Namibia to make it possible for sex workers to report crimes against them.

Making this request for the umpteenth time in Parliament on Thursday, Kazenambo said it is presently impossible to know how sex workers are protected because they cannot report illegal acts perpetrated against them without facing a backlash from the law enforcement agencies.

"How do you control something that is not legal?" he challenged, saying current legislation criminalising prostitution is draconian and biased, and "based on non-reality".

"We have to create a mechanism for people to have recourse to justice. Now people suffer in silence, they are trafficked, and children are abused," said Kazenambo.

While DTA MP Philemon Moongo proposed "zero sex workers" in Namibia by 2030, female MPs showed more empathy with the plight of prostitutes.

Namibia -

Sex workers, who celebrated the International Sex Workers Rights Day, last week (2 March) in Windhoek, are demanding the legalization of prostitution, one of the oldest trade in the world.

Prostitution, however, remains illegal in Namibia and the Ombudsman, John Walters, who was invited by sex workers, said that when prostitution will be legalized in the country. “For the first time the International Sex Workers Rights Day was celebrated in Namibia, but sex work and prostitution are still not legal in Namibia.”
He says he’s not against sex workers, adding; “Namibia is a free independent country and each individual has his/her own choice to do what they want to do with their life.”
The sex workers made use of the opportunity to express the difficulties they are facing. Scholastica Goagoses, Director of The Red Umbrella, an organization advocating for sex workers’ rights, says as a human being she doesn’t understand why her job cannot be legalized in Namibia. “Sex work is already legalized in many other countries in the world. If it becomes legal we won’t be treated with so much discrimination and hate from the public. We are beaten up by our clients, sometimes we are not paid for the job that was successfully done and the public call us bad names and they talk unpleasant things about us behind our backs.”

Nikodemus Auchomub (known as Mama Africa), a transgender sex worker and director of Rights Not Rescue Namibia, says that he has always been living and working on the street. “I went from a street kid to a sex worker. Namibia’s Founding President, diplomats and freedom Fighter told the police to arrest sex workers and to chase them away if they see them looking for clients. Mr. President, we sex workers are also human and children of this world. Let us stop violence and discrimination against sex workers.”

“We sex workers are denied our rights. They say vote for us for a better independent country, but when we vote and raise our voices about human rights violations, no one listens. They don’t deliver on their promises. It is all lies!” says Auchomub.

SEX workers in Namibia face violence, discrimination and stigma on a daily basis from those who are expected to uphold the rule of law, namely police officers, and say that they too have human rights and should enjoy the protection of the Constitution.

Saturday was International Sex Worker Rights Day, and the occasion was commemorated in Windhoek on Friday when a group of sex workers witnessed the launch of a number of reports related to sex work in Namibia.

The reports have been produced by UNAIDS, the joint United Nations Programme on HIV-AIDS and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The event also saw two sex workers who have become human rights activists giving moving and emotional accounts of events that have taken place in their lives.

Scholastica Goagoses, director of The Red Umbrella, an organisation advocating for sex workers' rights and resistance to oppression, told how she was driven 25 kilometres outside Windhoek by a male client only to be left by the side of the road completely naked.

WINDHOEK  – The Namibian Sex Workers Coalition (NSWC) under the auspices of the African Sex Worker Alliance Namibia (ASWA) will observe international sex workers’ rights day tomorrow.

The day originated in 2001 when over 25 000 sex workers gathered in India for a sex worker festival. Organisers wanted to celebrate the lives of sex workers as well as highlight the determination and strength of sex workers.

Sex workers’ groups across the world have subsequently celebrated March 3 as International Sex Workers’ Rights Day.
At a breakfast meeting yesterday, sex workers movements such as the Red Umbrella, Rights not Rescued and ASWA, emphasised the importance of decriminalising sex work and respecting the rights and dignity of sex workers.

Nikodemus Aochamub, also known as Mama Africa, said sex workers often face harassment from the police and broader public. They cannot report it since sex work is illegal in the country.

He cited the Namibian constitution, saying even “sex workers have fundamental human rights which should be adhered to”.
“Sex workers have the fundamental human right to live their lives and conduct their work free from all discrimination on the basis of the occupation of sex work and physical and emotional violence,” said Abel Shinana, Project Coordinator of ASWA Namibia.

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