8 March 2016

Africa: Watch Nicole's Story - Why Sex Work Must Be Decriminalised

On International Women's Day (8 March), leaders around the world are taking pledges on issues of gender equality; HIV and sex work are issues on which they must take action.

Since the start of the global HIV epidemic, in many regions, women have remained at a much higher risk of HIV infection than men (AVERT).

There are many reasons for this, including: early and forced child marriage; gender-based violence; and lack of access to education and healthcare services.

Sex workers at greater risk of HIV

Lack of access to education and job opportunities also means women are more likely to turn to sex work, which makes them particularly vulnerable to HIV, not least because in many countries they are criminalised. This puts them at greater risk of violence, and creates huge barriers to accessing HIV prevention, treatment and care services.

The Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) is campaigning to decriminalise sex work in South Africa.

Nicole Adams, 27, from Cape Town, was sexually abused as a teenager. "My eldest daughter is my stepfather's child and my middle one my uncle's and the last one is gang rape but that didn't stop me from going and standing on the streets and selling myself for sex," says Nicole. "Because in the end of the day it brought food on my table, it brought food into my babies' stomachs and it put them in school."

Nicole is now a lobbyist for SWEAT. Watch the video and find out more about Nicole's story and why she wants you to sign the SWEAT petition, and urge your leaders to do the same.

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