Thursday, March 18, 2010

Poverty And Sex Trade - Young Ones Favoured

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA9MB)- In the absence of alternative opportunities to earn a livelihood for themselves and their households, millions of women across the African continent, are selling sex as a mean to survive.
However, young girls or women that are engaged in sex work in many parts of the continent are subjects to none of the usual labour codes and standards of professionalism, which would ensure their physical or mental safety, commonly referred to as the "oldest profession in the world".
Sex work, pornography, early marriage and cross generational sex, that is sex between adolescents and adults have taken root in the continent. As the global economic crisis deepens, rising numbers of women are turning to sex work as a source of income generation for the welfare of their families.
Poverty has led to an increased in prostitution in Africa, and also contributed to the rise of HIV and AIDS infections. Those that are infected with the virus are stigmatised and discriminated in our societies, and these millions continues to face stigma and discrimination everyday in their lives.
A good number of our beautiful girls has loss their virginity and pride, because of sex work and most of them are now HIV and AIDS patients and in some parts of Africa, they are denied employment, promotion at work, suffer dismissal and even detention or isolation which constitute a gross violation of their human rights.
Other forms of violence of their human rights, include the compulsory testing and screening of individuals and groups.
In addition, sex work or sexual transaction that are poverty driven are likely to foster behaviours that are risk taking, and thus to increase women's vulnerability to gender- based violence, dignity, protection and respect is not accorded.
Sex tourism in the continent also plays the other part by our visiting tourists, which is also a new term coined in the continent in the advent of global information communication technology use and our women and children particularly vulnerable to being exploited and abused in this way. The Internet has facilitated the sex work industry, in facilitating new spaces for recruitment and for advertising of services. This in many parts of the continent, also creates unsafe situations where women are vulnerable to abuse and the anonymity with which the Internet is used further increases this risk.
The rise in online dating means that our women often become vulnerable and give details about themselves on Internet which they normally would not, threatening their safety. Sex workers who are victims of gender based violence are unlikely to go to the police for fear of unsympathetic treatment and sex workers themselves rarely have a voice, they are often talked about but are not party to dialogue around sex work.
It would be very important to lobby to get sex workers included in country level national AIDS Action Plans. They also need to increased advocacy and educational programmes which informed them of the risk of the trade and make better choices for themselves, as most of them have multiple sex partners and some can be unsafe sex.

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