African sex workers unite for their rights

By Clare Johannesburg Feb 5, 2009, 14:58 GMT

Johannesburg – From 10 African countries they came – women and men, straight, gay and transgendered – to share their experiences of selling sex in the world’s poorest continent and to press their demands for equal rights.

Johannesburg, Africa’s biggest city, played host this week to the first-ever African sex worker conference.

Wearing yellow conference T-shirts and jeans for the most part, 153 delegates gathered Tuesday in a health research centre in the city’s rundown Hillbrow district.

Starting on day one of a three-day session, the tone was clear. ‘We want rights, not rescue,’ a young Kenyan woman declared, reading from a communique on behalf of the participants.

Citing Africa’s political liberation movements as a source of inspiration, the sex workers are forging a pan-African alliance to press their demands for full emancipation, including an end to the criminalization of their trade. Continue reading