2nd Edition of Africa Leadership Sex Workers Academy (ALESWA) under way In Nairobi Kenya

The African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) started a new knowledge and capacity model known as the Africa Leadership Sex Workers Academy (ALESWA) which is underway in the Kenyan capital from 31st Jan to 4th Feb 2023.

The objective is to strengthen the capacity of emerging and existing sex workers leaders to create a robust sex workers movement in Africa. ALESWA is an extensive knowledge and skills building training model to build the resilience of individuals and organizations in the next three years.

Focus areas will be the Africa human rights frameworks underpinning social protection for marginalised groups such as sex workers. Social protection’ refers to measures aimed at preventing and addressing situations which negatively affect people’s wellbeing, as well as measures which reduce vulnerability and facilitate social and economic stability.

Participants have come from 3 Fracophone African countries namely;

1.     Benin

2.     Senegal

3.     Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

The 18 participants come from the following organisations:

  1. Benin-Reseau Solidarite
  2. Senegal – And Soppeku, Kaay Book,Siggil Jiggen,Moytu,And Takawu Djigemme,Karague Protection
  3. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) HODSAS, UMANDE, ACODHU-TS,La Colombe Pride,

The objective of the training is to enable the participants to understand the following:

  • The Human Rights Framework
  • Social protection issues for sex workers
  • The necessity of social protection and SRHR on sex work and sex workers
  • The survey methodology
  • And finally, to understand and conduct the survey on social protection and SRHR issues

Overview DAY 1

The facilitators explained the difference of legalization and decriminalization. Legalisation  means the regulation of sex work with laws regarding where, when, and how it should take place. Those sex workers who cannot or will not fulfill those regulations and laws face  some of the worst harms of criminalization. It excludes sex workers who are already marginalized, like people who use drugs or who are undocumented thus makes their situation more dangerous.

Decriminalization eliminates all laws and prohibits the state and law-enforcement officials from interfere in any sex work-related activities or transactions. 

Module 1:

Human Rights Framework

The facilitators introduced human rights framework, explained human rights, various international human rights mechanism: treaties, protocols; universal declaration of human rights, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),(International bill on the rights of women) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and international covenant on, economic, social and cultural rights, Maputo PROTOCOL, African Charter On Human And Peoples Rights among others like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

The participants learnt on the following articles:

Article 23: the right to work, choice of employment, and to just and favorable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment; the right to just and favorable remuneration, and, if necessary, by other means of social protection; the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of interests.

Art. 25: the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services; the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood; special care and assistance for motherhood and childhood, including equal social protection for children born out of wedlock

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

The participants learnt about article 8: the right to form and join trade unions for the promotion and protection of economic and social interests and on Article 9: the right to social security, including social insurance.

Other UN Human Rights Instruments

•       Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) & Convention relating to the Status of stateless Persons (1954): Art. 24

•       The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965): Art. 5(e)(iv)

•       The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979): Art. 11(1)(e), Art. 11(2)(b)

•       Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989): Art. 26, Art. 27(1), Art. 27(2) and (3).

•       International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families (1990): Art. 27, Art. 54

•       Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006): Art. 28

•       Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007): Art. 21(1)

Group Discussion on Human Rights Treaties and Conventions

Question 1

Have you heard or utilized any of the human rights treaties and conventions discuss?

All the teams responded that they interacted with CEDAW but they will need more support for a meaningful engagement.

They urged for support on how to write CEDAW reports.

Question 2

Do you know any other treaties and conventions that affect sex workers life and work?

1.     The Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (CERD)

2.     The International Convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance (ICCPED)

3.     The United Nations Convention against torture (CAT)

4.     Abuja declaration on SRHR

Challenges to utilizing the treaties and conventions

1.     Lack of information about the treaties

2.     Religion and cultural beliefs

3. Some of those treaties not recognizing sex work as work

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