The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) and Sisonke Association of Botswana, (sex-worker led organization), wishes to expresses their views on Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso on her statement that “It Takes Two To Tango”.
In the article, it is reported that Tshireletso spoke about dangers faced by sex workers in their line of work. She is reported to have recognized and acknowledged that, sex workers are in need of safety from those that abuse them and use them without payment. Further, she recognized them as human beings in need of protection which demonstrate inclusiveness and a helping hand to another human being.
As a human rights organization, BONELA finds it commendable that a high ranking official is conversant with issues affecting women and in particular, sex workers. BONELA applaud such public statements and emphasize that, sex workers need to be treated as human beings and be availed optimal health services and protection by the law.
Undoubtedly, for Botswana to reach its Vision 2016 goals; progressive and transformational leaders such as Mma Tshireletso who think outside the box, on health and human rights issues, are needed to facilitate access to services and utility of the same. The vision to protect key populations is enabled by an open dialogue as it is the only way to helping us as a country to address issues of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for sex workers and ensure that we get to zero new HIV infections by 2016.
Botswana criminalizes sex work through Sections 154 and 155 of the Penal Code. These carry sanctions relating to solicitation, knowingly living on the earnings of prostitution, brothel keeping and restrictions against loitering. It is increasingly becoming clear that other cross cutting issues of human rights violations, stigma and discrimination, gender based violence, poverty and HIV are placing sex workers at risk of HIV infection, extortion and violence in the hands of service providers, their customers and the general public. This can only push sex workers under ground and deter them to access services, we therefore appeal to policy makers to address these issues.
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