Sisonke – South Africa

Project Info

Project Description

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 recognized 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 the 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 defense
  • Leadership and capacity building
  • Advocacy for decriminalization
  • Institution building through the development and strengthening of provincial offices and national office.

Human Rights Defence

  • Mobilize 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 organizing.
  • Undertake condom distribution and information sharing through outreach. 

Advocacy for decriminalization

  • 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 organizations, 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 organization.
  • Ensure the 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.
  • Hostorganizationss assist with administration and mentoring atthe 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