Sex workers in Chikhwawa have formed an alliance with the aim of ensuring that the problems they encounter in the course of doing their business are coordinated and proper measures taken if they are abused.
Speaking to Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Wednesday, Chairperson of the alliance Evelyn Mkumbwa said the association through her leadership will ensure that all issues that negatively affect their businesses are dealt with urgency.
She said there are a lot of things to be done especially the introduction of savings among sex workers and use of the profits realized for funeral and other emergencies.
“This is a very good development that we have finally set up our alliance in Chikhwawa that will ensure that our affairs as sex workers are properly coordinated. We have faced a lot of challenges ranging from ill-treatment from some law enforcers as well as accessing the health services but with this grouping formed we are sure that will be a thing of the past.
“I assure all my colleagues who form part of this alliance that I will be there for them. I will at the same time be their mouthpiece and I will make sure that when things are wrong, I will speak and not pretend as though things are alright,” said Mkumbwa.
Mkumbwa bemoaned the tendency of some clients who abuse them by sleeping with them without payment or giving them a lower amount than agreed.
She added that they will safeguard their rights by ensuring that as sex workers, they strive for a good relationship with their clients.
“It should be a thing of the past when clients could sleep with us and dump us in the process. It is our plea that we all should play a safe game where every party should benefit,” pointed out Mkumbwa.
In his remarks, National Aids Commission (NAC) Coordinator for the Southern Region Amidu Tung’ande said his organization has been facilitating the formation of sex worker district committees to address the needs of sex workers especially in the area of health.
Tung’ande said these formal structures will help sex workers to have their voice heard both at district and national level.
“We believe this is a right platform for all sex workers to channel their concerns, be it on ART and lobbying for fair and respectful treatment of sexual transmitted diseases in public health facilities,” said Tung’ande.
Chikhwawa District Aids Coordinator Newton Munthali said the formation of the Sex Workers alliance was one step ahead in the fight against HIV and AIDs in the district as they (sex workers) were among the key populations facing many challenges in terms of service provision.
Munthali said it was difficult to reach out to this group of people with HIV and AIDs interventions considering the environment in which they operate adding that not many come out to access these services in facilities as people discriminate against them.
“The alliance will be a link or a bridge between DACC and the sex workers in the district to the extent that different partners will reach out to the sex workers with various interventions to achieve the 90:90:90 targets,” said Munthali.