“It’s my first time in the academy and it has really opened my eyes as far as sex worker advocacy and movement is concerned,” said Precious Zuzu.
Zuzu, who is from Swaziland’s Family Life Association, was among 18 participants from Swaziland, Cameroon, and Kenya who were selected to attend the 10th Sex Worker Africa Academy (SWAA).
She said that the academy, that which aims to strengthen the sex workers’ rights movement across Africa, through building the capacity of sex worker-led organizations provided a conducive learning environment with for sharing experiences, challenges and best practices with representatives from other countries.
“Sadly we don’t have an organization in Swaziland which advocates for the rights of sex workers but from the training, I promise to go back and start one. I promise to implement what I have learned towards advocating for the rights of sex workers,” Zuzu added.
She added that SWAA has taught her about the benefits of advocacy, promising to do a lot in Swaziland in order to change the attitudes and perceptions of people towards sex workers.
“I won’t be the same again. I am willing to do a lot in Swaziland so as to have a huge change in my country hoping the next generation will proud of me,” she promised.
Zuzu was grateful to ASWA and KESWA for inviting her to the training and requested support in order to start a sex worker-led organization in Swaziland.
“By having our own organization we will be in a position to deliver services to key populations more efficiently,” she said.
Amakhosi Mabizela, a sex workers’ rights activist from Swaziland, said sex workers have low self-esteem. However, SWAA has taught them about self-confidence and how to influence policy and programming and develop their own services.
“I have learned more on how to plan, open and monitor a movement. I learned a lot about the rights of sex workers and leadership skills. I will do my best and help my colleagues back home since we encounter challenges that are global,” she concluded.
On his part Cameroonian Patrick Fosco, President of L Condom, said the working environment in Cameroon is very hostile to male, female and transgender sex workers.
“There is a lot of arbitrary arrests and the police ask for unprotected sex before taking you to court. The sex workers are also a targeted for witchcraft where they are killed and their body parts used in witchcraft,” he said.
Fosco says he has gained advocacy knowledge from the academy and he is going to develop a national movement back in Cameroon to campaign for the rights of sex workers.
“L condom cannot do the entire advocacy work in Cameroon because the country is big. We will share the knowledge we have gain from the academy with other organization so that we can be at the forefront in advocating for the rights of sex workers,” he concluded.