Sex work is work too: Mama Africa

13 May 2014 17:30pm
WINDHOEK, 13 MAY (NAMPA) - Namibians must accept that sex work is work like any other and feeds thousands of families, members of the 'Rights Not Rescue' Trust Organisation (RNRT) have said.
The organisation represents prostitutes, or sex workers, as the group’s members would like to be referred to.
They claim that they are faced with various key issues affecting their human rights in this country, although the Namibian Constitution clearly states that Namibians can practice any profession, trade and/or business.
However, sex work is not seen as work due to its criminalisation under former apartheid-era laws, which are still in existence here.
The organisation's spokesperson, Nikodemus Aoxamub, also known as ‘Mama Africa’, said during a media briefing at the City Police headquarters on Tuesday that sex workers operating in Namibia face deplorable treatment from law-enforcement agencies, including the City Police, who do not protect them.
The media briefing was held at the City Police offices for sex workers to speak open and freely about the plight and harsh realities they are faced with, as well as to give recommendations on the draft municipal by-laws.
Aoxamub said the organisation would like to engage and seek more audience on structural issues framing the laws, which are punitive to sex workers.
“We completely understand that the notion around sex work is not acceptable, but we have been in this trade for long. Therefore, we want the dialogue to continue, rather than debate to understand each other,” Aoxamub said.
He added that the bases of human rights which are represented in the Namibian Constitution are clear on the enforcement of protection of all people, irrespective of their association.
Aoxamub further stated that the municipal by-laws further infringe various rights of sex workers as Namibian citizens, such as freedom of movement, the right to privacy and human dignity, as well as the right to practice any profession, trade or business in Namibia.
“The human dignity of sex workers as Namibian citizens first is not respected,” he emphasised.
On his part, the Chief of the City Police, Abraham Kanime said the City Police are only acting according to municipal by-laws regulating and controlling solicitation for paid sex, adding that the City Police will be failing in its duties if it does not act towards those soliciting prostitutes in public places.
'The law will take its own course if those who are soliciting for sex on the streets or in public places are caught acting upon those transgressions,' he said.
Kanime said issues with laws should be taken up with the law makers instead.