Did you know that today is International Sex Workers’ Rights Day?
Sex workers calling for the decriminalization of prostitution marched in Cape Town to the offices of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, according to South Africa's Eyewitness News.
Police led the small group down the busy Keizersgracht Street in central Cape Town.
Many of the shouting participants wore colorful masks to obscure their faces, while others wore bright red clothing to show their support for efforts to legalize prostitution. One woman said it is unfair for sex workers to be labelled as criminals, since many are forced into the profession to put food on the table. She said the municipal vice squad is largely to blame for the sense of oppression suffered by sex workers.
Sex workers also demonstrated in nine African cities in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The event marks the day in 2009 when sex workers from Southern, Western and Eastern Africa came together to form the African Sex Worker Alliance (ASWA) to lead the fight for sex workers’ rights in Africa. So far the group has members in seven African countries: Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
“We call for access to health services and the ending of sex workers’ human rights violations. When we dare to be powerful, to go onto the streets and make our voices heard, we know there are those who will try to shame and ridicule us, with the hope that we will be isolated and silenced. But this won’t be the case!” said ASWA Regional Coordinator, Kyomya Macklean.