Africa: How Covid-19 Is Endangering Sex Workers in Africa

In numerous spots in Africa, sex for cash is promptly accessible, modest, dangerous, and frequently unlawful. For some sex laborers, work is regularly hazardous. The Covid makes it even worse.

The Senegambia strip in Serekunda is the most popular delight mile in the Gambia. Bars and dance club line up here; numerous European and American vacationers walk around the seaside city quarter in normal occasions. Sex laborers likewise procure their cash here.

One of them is Hawa (name changed). In the same way as other young ladies, she has been functioning as a sex laborer for quite a while. “If I don’t prostitute myself, I have no money to pay my bills, buy clothes and lead a good life,” Hawa told DW.

Since Gambia’s President Adama Barrow requested the conclusion of bars and clubs as a major aspect of measures to control COVID-19, sex laborers’ circumstance has disintegrated drastically. Prostitution is boundless in the Gambia yet unlawful. The greater part of the assessed 3,100 sex laborers in the West African nation search for customers on the sea shore, in bars, and lodgings – yet they are presently shut due to the coronavirus.

Sex customers exploit the situation

Before the lockdown, Hawa earned at any rate €100 ($118) every night. Yet, presently the single parent experiences issues paying her lease and accommodating her children.

“Some customers take advantage of the situation to pay less,” Hawa said. “They only pay 35 euros.” The spots where the 28- year-old ordinarily shops are presently shut. “I have to stay at home and wait for the customer’s call. Either they come to me, or I find a place where I can close the deal,” she added.

The Global Network for Sex Work Projects (NSWP) wrote in August that sex laborers keep on torment “loss of income and increasing discrimination, harassment, and violence” due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Besides, government help bundles barely incorporate sex laborers. As indicated by the NSWP study, crisis reserves, crisis conveyances, and lease help exist in Kenya and Nigeria. However, sex laborers there whine that the assets regularly don’t reach them.

A review of 884 sex laborers did by the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA) additionally uncovered that over 65% of overviewed don’t approach condoms and HIV prescription on account of the COVID-19 crisis.

‘We are not, at this point safe’ – Kenyan sex worker

Activists like Yusuf Taylor in the Gambia are requesting that the administration uphold sex laborers. “COVID-19 and the state of emergency affect everyone,” Taylor told DW. “Therefore, all those who are suffering from problems should receive a relief fund to help them get through it.”

Alice from the Coast Sex Workers Alliance (COSWA Kenya) has been in the sex business for 15 years. She disclosed to DW that sex laborers in Kenya could no longer work evenings on account of time limit and need to get customers at their homes or go to their homes where they are at their kindness. “We are no longer safe; in recent months, there have been repeated cases of girls being beaten and murdered by clients,” Alice said.

Police viciousness and stigmatization

A 2012 concentrate by the Open Society Foundation in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe found that police hassle sex laborers who convey condoms. At times, the security officials genuinely and explicitly misuse the sex laborers, take steps to capture them for condom ownership as a method of shakedown and exploitation.

“A lot of things are coming from police officers who arrest sex workers and confiscate condoms,” says Chloe Turner of the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) in South Africa. Sex work is likewise illicit there. “They say if you have more than four condoms, you are doing sex work. This robs sex workers of the opportunity to protect themselves sexually,” says Turner.

This is likewise a major issue in Kenya, says Alice. “The police must understand that we are human beings, that we need money to make ends meet, that we are not criminals, that we do not steal from anyone and that it is work just like any other job.”

‘Safe sex’ in Senegal

Currently, Senegal is the main nation in Africa, where prostitution is legitimate. The essential is to be finished 21 years old and to have month to month assessments. Sex laborers can get to condoms free of charge.

The accomplishment of this plan is clear in the quantity of individuals tainted with HIV. As per UN figures, 37% of sex laborers in Africa were HIV positive in 2012. In Senegal, the number was just 7%.

SWEAT lobbyist Turner sees the sanctioning and decriminalization of sex function as the most significant advance. “The arguments against legalization in South Africa are that sex work contributes to child trafficking and is the reason for most HIV cases, which is not true,” says Turner. To forestall kid prostitution, South African sex laborers would even “work hand in hand with the police,” Turner said.

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Awareness key to ensuring sex workers

According to Turner, bringing issues to light in the public eye, the police, and the administration, will likewise assist shield with sexing laborers from misuse. “We demand not only legalization but complete decriminalization in order to protect sex workers from police violence and violent clients.”

He said at exactly that point will sex laborers care more for their wellbeing, shape their lives, and offer monetary help to their households.

Sex laborers Hawa from Gambia and Alice from Kenya both dream of an alternate life. “I want to quit sex work because I am getting older,” Hawa said. “I want to settle down with a man and do another kind of work.”

Alice wishes to have the option to go to a medical clinic and be treated with respect. “Respect me as a person. I contribute to the economy of this country.” Everything begins with little motions. For instance, she refers to how individuals respond when they face a cleric. “I wish that everyone who meets me would smile at me in the same friendly way.”