Sex workers urged to report cases of sexual abuse

…Magistrate says children of sex workers entitled to support from fathers

Human Rights advocates in Chikwawa have urged female sex workers in the district to report any forms of rights abuse, including sexual abuse, they may encounter in the line of their duty, saying they are equally entitled to all forms of Human Rights just like everyone else.

The call was made during a series of meetings the John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO) organised recently in the district aimed at enlightening female sex workers on their rights.

Speaking during one such meeting held at Kukhala motel in Nchalo, Rose Dekha Mataka who is Nchalo first grade Magistrate court said Female Sex workers ought to know that they have a right to choose whom they want to have sex with and that whenever someone tries to have them forcefully, that person has violated their rights.

She also said female sex workers who have children ought to know that fathers of their children have got a responsibility towards their needs and urged them to report all fathers who fail to fulfill their responsibility to relevant authorities.

Magistrate Mataka has, however, warned female sex workers involved in some forms of criminalities such as stealing or causing any other forms of violence that the long arm of the law shall also not spare them.

“As the court we have moved in to ensure that the rights of Female sex workers are safeguarded in the District. What we have done is to include them in special court users committee. The idea is to encourage them to be able to come to the courts whenever their rights have been violated,” said Mataka.

Chikwawa Community Policing coordinator inspector Kingsly Mvuthe also echoed Magistrate Mataka’s sentiments saying female sex workers are equally entitled to all forms of human rights including seeking medical assistance whenever they fall sick.

One of the female sex workers Florence Phiri hailed the meeting as an eye opener saying it has encouraged her to report to relevant authorities whenever their rights are violated.

She, however, complained about the habit of some police officers whom she accused of being in the forefront abusing them instead of protecting them.

On his part, Daniel Chisoni who is project officer for JHPIEGO said his organisation is carrying out some sensitisation meetings in the district aimed at empowering female sex workers on how they can demand their rights in situation where they have been violated.

He said the meetings being called “know your law enforcer” are being implemented under a five-year project called ‘Get way’ his organization is implementing in the district alongside other districts of Chiradzulo, Mwanza and Mzimba with funding from the Center for Disease Control Program (CDC).

The project has identified some key population who are at risk of contracting HIV namely sex workers and some transgender groups whom they are targeting with HIV/AIDS prevention measures.

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