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African Sex Workers Alliance

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ASWA Condemns Violence Against Sex Workers In The East Of The Democratic Republic Of The Congo

African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) is deeply saddened by the escalating cases of rape, sexual and physical violence against women sex workers in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in general in the Province of South and North Kivu.

Read more here https://bit.ly/2S6y1Dw

During the 73rd CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) Session which took place in June-July 2019, sex worker-led organisations in DRC- UMANDE and ACODHU-TS submitted a shadow report which  highlighted state violence and lack of access to justice for sex workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, indiscriminate arrests of sex workers and young women during ‘UJANA’ raids purportedly aimed at ending the sale of sex by children, as well as sex workers’ exclusion by women’s civil society spaces.

More than 300 female sex workers were abused and arrested by order of Provincial Government of Kinshasa by police in in the course of an operation called “UJANA”, – a phenomenon described as ‘juvenile delinquency close to prostitution’ – and gave powers to police to shut down bars allowing entry to under 18s, and arrest women deemed to be dressed inappropriately. In Bukavu, 53 sex workers have been violently arrested and humiliated for no reason.” says the Report in part.

Read the full report here: https://aswaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/DR-CONGO-SHADOW-REPORT_2019-7.pdf

Though the sex worker-led organisations -UMANDE and ACODHU-TS have held concerted advocacy efforts on reducing violence against sex workers, still violence is continuously being propagated even by the police and soldiers.

Most recently, sex workers were subjected to sexual and physical violence including rape for refusing to engage in sex without pay and condom. On April 27 2021, a commander in the FARDC (Congolese Armed Forces) ordered one of his colleagues to beat up a sex worker who refused to have sex with him without using a condom in a mining area in BENDERA. This event occurred in the territory of FIZI at the border between the Province of Tanganyika and South Kivu.

Read more here:

ASWA is in solidarity with the sex workers groups UMANDE, HODSAS and the member organizations of the Congolese Alliance for Human Rights and ACODHU-TS to strongly condemn the human rights abuses and violence against the sex workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We also join in calling for

                                                       The Congolese state

  1. To protect women and transgender sex workers working in the mining area and in the mining towns;
  2. Social, legal, but especially humanitarian assistance must be provided to the victims;

          The partners of all the sex workers’ groups in D.R.C

  1. To support urgent legal and medical assistance to women sex workers;
  2. To provide sex worker victims with psychosocial support
  3. To reinforce and accompany UMANDE in fulfilling the activities that reduce violence against sex workers.

        The sex workers:

  1. To map out and avoid risky areas, and to share information through social security network groups.
  2. To share, disseminate and join the UMANDE WhatsApp group;
  3. To reach the nearest health-care clinic within 72 hours for holistic care.
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