Southern Africa members

South Africa

South African National Movement of Sex Workers

In 2003, Sisonke, a Sex Worker Movement was launched at the Second National Sex Worker meeting in Worcester in the Western Cape. The Purpose of the Movement at the time was to Develop National Solidarity among Sex Workers and become more Organised in Response to the issues they were faced with in their Working Environment.


To see a South Africa where sex work is recognised as work, and where sex workers health and human rights are ensured


Our aim is to unite sex workers, improve our living & working conditions and fight for equal access to rights. United we have a voice!


  • To develop national solidarity amongst sex workers.
  • To reduce stigma associated with sex work.
  • To challenge and change existing laws relating to sex work.
  • To fight for and defend the human and health rights of sex workers.
  • To fight for the recognition of sex work as work.
  • To capacitate sex workers to speak and act on there own behalf.


Sex workers face many difficulties including:

  • Harassment by police
  • Unsafe and unfair working conditions
  • Abuse from clients, pimps and community members
  • Experience problems when accessing services like social, health and police
  • Problem with access to banks or opening accounts


Sisonke strives to overcome these challenges through the implementation of the following programmes:

  • Human rights defence
  • Leadership and capacity building
  • Advocacy for decriminalisation
  • Institution building through the development and strengthening of provincial offices and national office.

Human Rights Defence

  • Mobilise sex workers to speak out about the human rights abuses they experience
  • Offer emotional support and express solidarity with sex workers who speak out through a court support program.
  • Encourage the use of the national helpline by promoting the toll-free number.
  • Conduct human rights workshops amongst sex workers.
  • Capacitate sex workers in peer education and paralegal support.

Leadership & Capacity Building

  • Hold creative space workshops to develop safe spaces for sex workers to focus on issues that concern them.
  • Conduct regular outreach to recruit membership, reconnect with existing membership and explore new ways of organising.
  • Undertake condom distribution and information sharing through outreach. 

Advocacy for decriminalisation

  • Support local efforts to meet with provincial and local leaders, Speaking confidently about DECRIMINALISATION
  • Participate in media liaison, highlighting local sex worker concerns
  • Participate in local organisations, service providers or provincial structures, representing sex workers and promoting the health & human rights of sex workers (eg:) in provincial aids councils’

Institution Building through the Development and Strengthening of Provincial and National Office

  • Capacitating provincial office bearers to oversee the smooth running of the organisation.
  • Ensure infrastructural capacity of sisonke in all provinces.
  • Lobbying more partners to have more allies on our side.

Sisonke Now

  • Is registered as an NPO
  • . Sisonke has a presence in 9 provinces
  • Sisonke has offices in 6 provinces.
  • Sisonke is based in SWEAT, where it is supported to achieve its goals both administratively and functionally.
  • Sisonke’s partners with WLC for legal support.
  • Host organisations assist with administration and mentoring at provincial level. 

Way Forward

  • To establish sisonke offices in provinces where they do not exist.
  • To build partnerships strengthening sisonke’s work in all provinces.
  • to sustain and grow sisonke activities nationally

Country: Zimbabwe 

Zimbabwe Sex Workers Alliance


To contribute to improved human rights status of sex workers by designing and implementing innovative, evidence based and cost effective advocacy campaigns capable of influencing public policy and practice in the field of Human Rights


Creating a society in which all sex workers are able to enjoy the fundamental rights and are free from violence and discrimination in Zimbabwe


  • To mobilise and capacitate sex workers on their health and legal rights (to know, own and advocate for their own rights)
  • To build a network of sex workers’ movement in the country and across the continent
  • To strengthen sex workers leadership through meaningful involvement at every level
  • To provide legal assistance to sex workers
  • Engagement in strategic litigation forums with stakeholders
  • Generate credible research on issues affecting sex workers that will inform them to develop their own responses


ZIMSWA founded in 2014 is an umbrella body of sex workers be it male, female and transgender sex workers in the country. Any member that identify as a sex worker in Zimbabwe can be a member of ZIMSWA. The registration process is ongoing and a board of trustees has already been identified.


SISONKE is a national organisation run by sex workers for sex workers in Botswana. Formed in April 2010, SISONKE brought together 20 sex workers from South Africa and Botswana. The founding members of SISONKE wanted to take responsibility for bringing change within the sex worker community and stand up for their rights.

Members are men and women from Botswana. Currently, a voluntary leadership team of seven sex workers heads SISONKE. The organisation is a nested partner within BONELA, an organisation that advocates for equal human rights for stigmatised groups.


SISONKE supports the call for decriminalising sex work because this will enable sex workers to access to fundamental rights of equality, self-esteem, privacy and free profitable movement. Sex work would be defined as legal employment, and this then means that sex workers will be protected by the same laws like other workers.



Sex workers face significant health risk within their profession. Specific risk stems from various factors of sex work. Workers often have knowledge about HIV/AIDS, STIs and safer sex practices, but do not always apply this knowledge. Sex work is stressful, which affects the health of sex workers, but support is often unavailable. Due to this inherent stress, some sex workers turn to alcohol and drugs as a coping strategy; however, this makes sex workers vulnerable to exploitation by clients. Within the current system, access to sympathetic clinics for health problems is difficult, and information about the dangers of drug and drug addiction is not readily available.


Sex workers face many dangers and difficulties from their clients. Sex workers may be faced with clients that want sex without a condom, and use violence to achieve their aims, stolen property, assault from clients, and harassment by police officers that may result in forced sexual activity by said officers.


The stigma of sex work often leaves sex workers very isolated to other sectors of society. Sex workers face stigma from communities, their families and the general public. This affects the quality of life of sex workers. The negative stigma can affect the ability of sex workers to find a place to stay, and also to find work outside the sex work industry. Sex workers also sometimes stigmatize themselves because they feel ashamed of the work they do. The poor conduct of a few sex workers can reflect badly on other sex workers.

SISONKE wishes to address these important issues through its work in promoting the rights of sex workers within Botswana.

SISONKE is the only movement that run by sex workers for sex workers.


  • Uniting sex workers
  • Improving sex workers living and working conditions
  • Fighting for equal access to rights
  • Building understanding and acceptance through open dialogue about sex work and improving relationships with the public


Respect for human rights for all sex workers.


To contribute to improved human rights status of all sex workers by designing and implementing innovative, evidence-based and cost effective advocacy campaigns capable of influencing public policy and practice in the field of human rights.


It is vital for sex workers to know what their rights are within the current legal system, understand how to access these rights, discern what resources are available, and understand how to take care of themselves and their colleagues when working.

Country: Malawi            

Community Health Rights Advocacy (CheRA)

CHeRA is a male sex worker community led not for profit organisation founded by MSW-based in Lilongwe Malawi in 2017. It is currently going through the registration process as an NGO under the laws of Malawi.

CHeRA works with MSW and MSM to raise awareness, capacity building of male sex workers in health rights advocacy, economic empowerment, income source diversification and financial independence and management, rapid response interventions for MSW facing prosecution and documentation of human rights abuses against MSW.


To reduce vulnerability of Male Sex Workers and MSM to abuse and HIV by engaging health care providers, law and policy makers, law enforcers, traditional leaders and the public for inclusivity in all aspects of human development without any form of prejudice or discrimination through feasible community empowerment mechanisms.


For the enjoyment of human rights for all regardless of their sexual orientation or preferred avenue of employment

Core Values

  • Integrity
  • Transparency
  • Accountability
  • Respect
  • Love
  • Professionalism


  • To mobilise and sensitise the wider community on sexual reproductive health rights.
  • To promote safer sexual behavioral practices through increasing comprehensive sexuality knowledge and skills among young men.
  • To promote socio economic independence which leads to psychological well-being of young men in Malawi.
  • To cultivate collaborative synergies with like-minded and oriented individuals and organisations.
  • Promote evidence based programing through improved health information management practices in HIV prevention among young men.


CHeRA has taken the lead in mobilising vehicle for the Joint TB/HIV Global Fund Program for the Malawian government. The organisation works under SAT Malawi a sub recipient of the Global Fund Program Funding in raising awareness, building capacity of MSM community and monitoring the program progress. To date, the organisation has trained 50 peer educators and distributed over 6000 condoms and compatible lubricants under this program.

CHeRA has conducted HIV prevention and linkage to treatment outreach campaign targeting MSW in three priority districts of Malawi under a funding arrangement with UNAIDS. The campaigns successfully reached out to over 250 MSW, distributed over 30 000 condoms and lubricants and linked 6 HIV positive MSW to care and treatment on site.