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Sex Worker Rights Group Participating In Bus Trip

Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) Press Release
Tuesday 7th March 2005

Sex worker rights group participating in national bus trip to stop violence against women and children

The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) is joining the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), as well as the Cape Town Rape Crisis Trust, Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme, Thusanang Advice Centre in participating in a national bus trip to stop violence against women and children.

The Bus will leave Johannesburg on International Women's Day (tomorrow - 8th March) and travel across the country for one month promoting the campaign to stop violence.

The campaign, which unites forty organisations around the country, has three main aims:

* To promote communities' awareness of women's rights as set out in the Domestic Violence Act, the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, the Maintenance Act and the Firearms Control Act;

* To collect petitions calling on both Parliament and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to consult with civil society around the finalisation and enactment of the Sexual Offences Bill; and

* To take women and children's voices to parliament by recording their concerns and experiences of violence.

SWEAT has been participating with other organisations in inputting to the draft Sexual Offences Bill. Sex workers also experience extremely high levels of violence - at the hands of the police, clients and their partners. Sex workers are unable to rely on the police to protect them from violence. They are commonly turned away from police stations when they try to report crimes such as rape. This, together with the high level of arrests, means that outdoor sex workers spend much time avoiding the police. The lack of protection for sex workers places them in a violent and unsafe working environment.

The bus departs from Constitution Hill on 8 March and reaches the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town on 10 April. Along the way it will travel through all nine of South Africa's provinces, stopping to run workshops, share information, distribute posters and pamphlets and record what communities have to say around how government departments could better implement laws and policy relevant to rape and domestic violence. This information, along with the petitions, will be handed over to parliamentarians on 10 April.

Media are invited to attend the launch of the campaign tomorrow in Johannesburg. The launch will feature an exhibition of the pamphlets and posters that will be distributed en route, photographs from the Fatherhood Project run by the Human Sciences Research Council, and a selection of digital stories compiled by Engender Health/Men as Partners. Our guest speaker will be musician and singer Andile Carelse, who also heads up the Open Disclosure Foundation which encourages young women and men to speak out against sexual violence.

Just some of the organisations and networks supporting the bus campaign include the National Working Group on the Sexual Offences Bill, the Western Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Networks on Violence Against Women, Cape Town Rape Crisis Trust, Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme, Thusanang Advice Centre and Women'sNet. A website providing daily updates around the campaign will also be launched.

Date: Wednesday 8 March 2006, International Women's Day
Time: 9:30 for 10:00
Venue: The Conference Room, Constitution Hill corner Kotze and Hospital Street. (Drive through the tunnel off Kotze Street to access parking)


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