Sex workers say their voices excluded from draft law

WINDHOEK: The Rights Not Rescue Trust (RNRT) organisation which represents sex workers in Namibia met with the Chief of the City Police, Abraham Kanime on Tuesday demanding the decriminalisation of sex work.

The trust is not happy with a draft municipal by-law that will give the City Police the authority to arrest sex workers and their clients.

RNRT spokesperson Nikodemus ‘Mama Africa’ Aoxamub said the trust is not afraid to seek legal assistance and will do so once the municipal by-law is gazetted.

Speaking at a media briefing at the City Police headquarters, Aoxamub alleged that the by-law was drafted without any consultation or inclusion of sex workers and that they only found out about it in March this year.

According to the RNRT, all stakeholders were consulted when the City of Windhoek drew up the Strategic Framework on HIV/AIDS for 2013-2016, an example which they say the City Police, which they assume drafted the by-law, should follow.

“Instead they opt to take another road which is unacceptable in a democratic country like Namibia as everybody has the right to express themselves,” Aoxamub said.

Kanime however said he was not aware of the exclusion of the organisation or lack of representation and said the City Police is only a law-enforcement body and not a law-making body.

The platform was created for sex workers to speak openly about issues concerning them, amongst others by making recommendations on the draft by-law.

The RNRT however failed to provide such recommendations at Tuesday’s briefing, and instead only indicated that it was not in agreement with the law.

Aoxamub further expressed dissatisfaction with police officers who allegedly follow sex workers to their homes when they are picked up by a client.

“Sex workers also have the right to privacy and just because one is a sex worker does not mean law-enforcement officers have the right to follow them to their private residence. As sex workers who are Namibian citizens, we cannot be told how to use our bodies,” the RNRT spokesperson said.

The trust further called on the City Police Chief to put the approval of the by-law on hold and start afresh with consultations on it.