Sometimes people forget about the fact that sex-workers are human beings too. The are women like any others, and their death causes a lot of pain and sorrow to family and friends. The increasing rate of violence against black sex-workers has given birth to #SayHerName campaign, whose goal is to collect names of victims and elucidate their life stories in media.

Addressing headlines

The name of the action, taken from the pretty similar movement in USA, symbolises publicity and expresses solidarity with relatives of  murdered women. While in South Africa prostitution is criminalized, there is a higher risk for sex-workers to be raped or killed than for any other groups. However, police and media don’t draw people’s attention to such cases and prefer hiding them besides neutral and frigid headlines. The  family comments and condolences appears only as an afterthought. #SayHerName participants persuade media to publish stories of each women, describing what she loved and how she lived. Obviously, there is a stigma around the profession of sex-worker; that is why some families are too scared even to report media about murdering.

#SayHerName: How To Protect Black Sex-Workers

#SayHerName: How To Protect Black Sex-Workers

SWEAT organization believes that such measures and improvements will help decriminalization of prostitution, changing people’s attitude toward sex-workers and crime in this sphere. Besides media aspect, the observation of crimes stays complicated for lawyers due to a lot of information being concealed from public. Within the framework of 2015 report, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Its Consequences, Dubravka Simonovic recorded some cases when police tend to hide some amount of information in order to smooth social tension. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have the expected effect.

#SayHerName: How To Protect Black Sex-Workers

#SayHerName: How To Protect Black Sex-Workers

All around the world

As we approach to December the 17th, an International Day to End Violence against Sex-Workers, South African cases has captured a lot of attention in western human rights organizations. #SayHerName supporters also claim that the fight against violence has no sence without getting rid of xenophobia, trans-phobia rasism and drugs criminalization.

The deteriorating fact that South Africa has a high rate of poverty makes population devastated: women are ready for any kind of work only for raising money to eat. There is no doubt that state economy matters a lot, what can be proved by the example of other poor countries in Latin America and Africa. However, decriminalization has negative effect too: children and women trafficing could be increased. By contrast, the coordinator at SWEAT Nosipho Vidima shares opposite views, claiming: “There are sex workers who want to leave or retire from the trade, and so our calls for decriminalization are accompanied by calls to increase economic and business skills development opportunities for women, so that when they leave sex work they are able to start new careers or run viable businesses”.

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