Day of No Violence against Sex Workers
Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce Press Statement Thursday 14th December 2006 3pm
International Day of No Violence against Sex Workers
Around the world, International Day of No Violence against Sex Workers will be commemorated on Sunday 17th December 2006. In Cape Town, SWEAT has been working with sex workers at indoor and street based workplaces for the past 11 years.
2006 has been a particularly bad year for Cape Town sex workers, who have experienced high levels of violence ranging from racist abuse to beatings to murder. SWEAT has been working with the family of the late Ellenore Leander, a middle aged Sex Worker who was stabbed 19 times in April this year, allegedly by 25 year old Clifford Norval. Tomorrow (Friday 15th December 2006), Norval will appear for the seventh time in court. Although the late Ellenore’s body was found dumped in the street outside Norval’s mother’s house, and although Norval opened the door to the police allegedly covered in blood, justice has been very slow in coming for the Leander family.
Currently, Norval is remanded without bail in Paarl prison, awaiting psychiatric evaluation. The late Ellenore’s family is very distressed because the local psychiatric unit, Valkenburg hospital, has not made a bed available for Norval since the court ordered this in July. Apparently, Norval is number 28 on the list of alleged criminals awaiting psychiatric evaluation. The late Ellenore Leander’s family feels that justice delayed is justice denied, and calls on the state to speed up the case.
The late Ellenore’s daughter, Androline Nel, can be contacted on 076 79 09 218.
Most other cases of violence experienced by sex workers in 2006, were at the hands of the SAPS or Cape Town Metro Police. SWEAT is currently pursuing criminal charges of assault and crimen injuria against the Bellville SAPS in a case where two sex workers were plucked by three officers from a restaurant while they were eating. The sex workers were then allegedly subjected to a night of racist verbal abuse, repeatedly pepper sprayed in their faces while they were confined in the back of the police van and the holding cells, being kicked across a room and one of the sex workers having her shirt torn off by officers and being left half-naked. SWEAT has not been able to get the police to refer this case for prosecution although it happened four months ago.
SWEAT has also been forced to engage legal counsel to assist homeless sex workers in Claremont who have been regularly kicked and hit with sticks in the middle of the night, allegedly by one officer of the Cape Town Metro Police.
Sex workers are not asking for more rights than other citizens of South Africa. Sex workers should be afforded the right to be free from violence and torture; and the rights to privacy and dignity that all other citizens are afforded by our Constitution. SWEAT is committed to continuing to take action against the violation of sex workers’ basic human rights.