Just a point of concern to all who are there to discriminate and stigmatize others, have you ever asked yourself this question, “if you were in his or her shoes how would you feel?” suppose    you were neglected due to your sexual orientation or the kind of work you do to earn a living, what will be your views?

There is a point I would like to make, not everybody was meant to be a farmer or be a teacher. Everybody has his or her own career, profession or job. If we were all meant to be farmers, who will buy our products?

You are within the community neglecting other people rights; you are doing a wrong thing. Let everyone has his or her freedom as long as he or she is not interfering with other persons interest or mandate.


As human beings, let everybody express their views in order to create a well and established society with full of knowledge, positive attitude and anxiety in order to achieve our mission, vision and positive impact in our future generation.

Let everybody exercise their freedom and rights in order to enhance peace across all genders and ages. Let everyone feel free to associate with one another in order to build a working nation. Keep this in mind. ONLY RIGHTS CAN STOP WRONG.PEACE


Sex Worker Rights Advocates’ Community of Learning


Welcome! Here you can learn Advocacy Tactics used successfully by advocates for sex workers’ rights, get Documentation Tools you can use in your campaigns, and get to know Member Organizations active in the field to learn more about their victories and challenges in human rights advocacy projects.

This community is supported by the Open Society Public Health Program

Survivors Organization members protesting marking.END VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS RIGHTS.
Survivors Organization members protesting marking.END VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS RIGHTS.


Why Document Human Rights Violations?

There are many reasons why people document human rights violations. In rare cases, documenting violations and exposing them to the public can on its own put an end to abusive practices. More often, however, documentation is only part of a larger effort to end abuses. In addition, it may take years and a combination of efforts to put a stop to an abuse altogether. Advocacy efforts based on the evidence gathered through documentation should therefore identify interim goals that are realistic to achieve and that contribute in a meaningful way to creating the conditions necessary to eventually put a stop to abuse.

It is therefore important for people who document violations to be clear about what specific changes they seek, and to be realistic about what they are capable of changing. The specific changes that result from documentation are referred to as outcomes. Outcomes should be designed to respond to particular problems that documentation seeks to solve and should be targeted at particular actors. Once these problems and outcomes are identified, the documentation process typically involves the following steps:

  • Designing the documentation methodology
    (this differs according to the advocacy and intended audience)
    • Collecting data
    • Data analysis and report-writing
    • Targeted advocacy

Common Human Rights Violations Experienced by Sex Workers

The Open Society Public Health Program has developed a clear and simple guide that pairs common violations experienced by sex workers with relevant provisions of major human rights treaties.

The guide, entitled Common Human Rights Violations Experienced by Sex Workers, explains briefly how human rights treaties are enforced and lists some of the most important enforcement mechanisms.  It also provides a key that sex workers’ rights advocates can use to determine which rights protected by international law have been violated when sex workers have certain kinds of experiences.  For instance, when a sex worker is arbitrarily arrested or detained, his or her right to liberty and security of person is violated and he or she may also experience violation of the right to equality and non-discrimination, the right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and the right to a fair trial. The guide lists these rights along with the relevant provisions of international treaties that are violated when these rights are not respected.

The purpose of the document is to make clear the connection between abusive acts commonly experienced by sex workers and international rights guarantees. By referencing the guide, sex workers’ rights advocates can present the experiences of sex workers in terms that international treaty bodies created to enforce human rights law can understand and take action on.

Documentation Tools

Rights groups can use a range of tools to document violations committed against sex workers. Here you will find examples of questionnaires that sex worker advocacy groups have developed to ensure that the way they engage with sex workers about their experiences is respectful and consistent, and results in the collection of clear and relevant data that can be used in reports or other advocacy materials. You will also find materials that describe the connection between advocacy and documentation, and share advice about the most relevant and effective targets for evidence-based advocacy projects.

For more information about the role of documentation in advocacy, see our Why Document Human Rights Violations Guide.

International and regional human rights mechanisms exist to implement human rights treaties and monitor governments’ compliance with international standards for human rights. By submitting testimony to these bodies, advocates link documentation and advocacy to achieve change. Learn more about alerting human rights bodies to rights violations.

For information about appropriate terminology to use in documentation reports, see this glossary of terms related to sexual health and rights.

Resource Guides Advocacy Tactics

Advocacy tactics are specific actions that groups take to achieve their strategic goals. These tactics are the means by which groups achieve their advocacy objectives to improve the situation for sex workers and gain greater respect for sex workers’ fundamental human rights. Sex worker groups have employed a range of advocacy tactics to forward the cause of sex worker rights. Here you will find examples from letter writing campaigns, NGO shadow reports exposing rights violations, NGO advocacy reports aimed at bringing about concrete legislative and policy changes, and real life examples of groups using strategic litigation as an advocacy tactic.

Member Organizations

We are working together to end human rights violations against sex workers.

Bar Hostess Support and Empowerment Program (BHSEP), Kenya

Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW), Kenya

Survivors Organization Busia. Kenya


Healthy Options Project Skopje (HOPS) and the Coalition for Protection and Promotion of Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities (the “Sexual and Health Rights Coalition”), Macedonia

Jazas, Serbia

Keeping Alive Societies’ Hope (KASH), Kenya

Legalife, Ukraine

Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN), Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), South Africa

Tais Plus, Kyrgyzstan

Women’s Legal Center (WLC), Cape Town, South Africa


This list of resources provides information about recognizing and documenting human rights abuses from organizations that work on a range of human rights issues.  Although not specific to advocacy for the rights of sex workers, these guides, manuals, and organizations provide useful tools for collecting information about abuses and developing creative and effective plans for human rights advocacy.

Guides and Manuals

Advocates for Human Rights and US Human Rights Network: A Practitioner’s Guide to Human Rights Monitoring, Documentation and Advocacy
This manual from Advocates for Human Rights and the US Human Rights Network provides comprehensive information and guidance on how to use a human rights framework to facilitate social change.  The manual includes instructions for every step of the human rights documentation process, including establishing a project and its objectives, setting up and conducting interviews, formulating recommendations, and writing a report.
External Link: A Practitioner’s Guide (English)

Asia Catalyst: Prove It Documenting Rights Abuses Manual
“Prove It” is the first in a three part series of manuals, called “Know It, Prove It, Change It: A Rights Curriculum for Grassroots Groups” which will be published jointly by Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG), Korekata AIDS Law Center in China, and Asia Catalyst in the US.  “Prove It” covers such topics as how to plan a research project, obtain informed consent, conduct interviews, and manage post-traumatic stress disorder among interviewees. It comes with a supplement containing detailed lesson plans that activists can use to hold community workshops.
External Link: Prove It Guide (English)

AWID: Reference Tool for Women Rights Defenders
This compilation of resources put together by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) lists research materials dealing with the security and protection of defenders, resources that women activists can consult concerning their wellbeing and self-care, manuals dealing with how to document and monitor violations of women’s rights, as well as manuals on the rights and mechanisms available to women human rights defenders at risk. The list also references materials that address specific themes particularly relevant to women defenders, such as sexual orientation and documenting sexual violence by state actors.
External Link: AWID Guide (English)

Equitas Manuals
The Equitas website provides access to manuals on how to conduct human rights education and reports about violations of women’s rights in specific countries.
External link: Equitas Manuals (English)

Front Line Handbook for Human Rights Defenders
The website for Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, provides several manuals that provide human rights defenders with knowledge and tools to improve their understanding of security and protection.  Additionally, the “Front Line Handbook for Human Rights Defenders: What protection can EU and Norwegian Diplomatic Missions offer?” summarises the provisions of the EU Guidelines on HRDs and Norwegian guidelines on HRDs. It draws on the results of the EU’s own evaluation of the implementation of its guidelines carried out in the first half of 2006. The handbook details the ways in which the EU and Norway have committed themselves to supporting and protecting human rights defenders. It also makes suggestions to HRDs regarding how they might benefit from these policies.
External links: Front Line Manuals (English); Front Line Manuals (French)

On the website for Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International, advocates will find useful manuals, such as, “What is Monitoring?” “What is Documentation?” “Data Analysis for Monitoring Human Rights,” and the “Handbook on Fact-Finding and Documentation of Human Rights Violations.” There is also free HURIDOCS software for use in creating a database for managing information about human rights violations.
External link: HURIDOCS Manuals (English)

IHRA UN Human Rights Systems and Harm Reduction Advocacy Training Package
This training, produced by the International Harm Reduction Association, provides civil society groups with an introduction to human rights concepts, the UN human rights system, and skills required to engage with UN accountability mechanisms.  The training involves a mix of discussions, group work, exercises, and presentations.  IHRA’s training manual and the necessary exercise materials can be found at the link.
External Link: IHRA Training (English)

ILGA-Europe Advocacy Manuals and Documentation Tools
Members of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association have undertaken a series of human rights documentation and advocacy projects regarding abuses against LGBTI people in specific countries and circumstances. ILGA-Europe developed its own handbook in 2008, which covers principles of human rights documentation, interviewing guidelines, advice for report writing, and a sample questionnaire. “Make it Work,” ILGA’s 2010 manual, provides a set of tools, methods, and skills which advocates can use in planning and implementing their advocacy work.  ILGA-Europe has also posted documentation tools and materials useful to activists documenting rights abuses against members of marginalized communities, including guidelines for documentation and examples of interview questions.
External links: ILGA Manuals;  Documentation Tools (English)

Martus software can be used for creating an encrypted database of rights violations that is backed up on a secure, remote server. The software and instructional publications, developed by the Benetech initiative, are available for free download.
External link: http://www.martus.org/index.shtml

Open Society Institute Human Rights Documentation and Advocacy: A Guide for Organizations of People Who Use Drugs
This guide aims to help activists recognize human rights abuses that are systematically conducted and condoned by state and non-state actors and silently suffered by people who use drugs. The guidebook focuses on providing activists with the tools necessary to develop a human rights advocacy plan, particularly by documenting abuses against people who use drugs.
External link: Human Rights Documentation and Advocacy: A Guide for Organizations of People Who Use Drugs (English)

Open Society Foundations: An Introduction to the European Human Rights System
The Open Society Foundations has created a brief overview of the European human rights system. The guide describes ways in which civil society groups can participate in European processes to hold states accountable for their compliance with human rights law and provides contact information and useful links to key European institutions.
Internal Link: An Introduction to the European Human Rights System (English)

UN Secretary-General’s Database on Violence Against Women
The Secretary General’s online database on violence against women is easy to use and contains primary source information about conditions women face in specific countries. It also includes a good practices section that directs visitors to examples of legislative reform and NGO projects designed to counter violence against women. The purpose of the database is to encourage the exchange of information and ideas about policies, services, and other measures to tackle violence against women.
External Link: UN Secretary-General’s Database on Violence Against Women (English)

Tactical Tech: Transforming Data into Images for Advocacy
Drawing By Numbers, a website created by the Tactical Technology Collective, is a collection of software tools and advice that organizations can use to turn information about human rights abuses into charts, maps, pictures diagrams and other visual instruments that can be used in advocacy, strategic planning, public education or training. Having something visual to present to audiences can be an effective means of convincing people of the importance of a problem and that you have the best solution. Information graphics are also useful in making large amounts of data or evidence easier to understand.

Tactical Tech worked with two sex-worker collectives in India and Cambodia to explore how data visualization could be used in advocacy campaigns for sex workers’ rights. They’ve published a write-up, the first in a series documenting the project, which explores how they collected data, analyzed it, crafted a message, and turned the information gathered into compelling visual evidence to present to a target audience.

The write-up of this case study is just one example of how organizations can use the data they collect as evidence in their advocacy campaigns. The website offers online manuals, toolkits, software and tutorials for organizations to use in crafting their own visual products using their own information about rights abuses.
External Link: Drawing by Numbers (English)
External Link: Sex worker voices: Documenting violations in India (English)

World Health Organization Guidelines on Conducting Research on Violence Against Women
These guidelines provide instructions on creating safeguards to make sure that the research participants are protected.
External Link: Guidelines on Conducting Research Against Violence Against Women (English, .pdf)


Open Society Foundations
The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve this mission, the Foundations seek to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. The Foundations have supported a number of sex worker organizations’ projects to document abuses and advocate for human rights.

Tactical Technology Collective
Tactical Tech is an international NGO helping human rights advocates use information, communications and digital technologies to maximise the impact of their advocacy work. Tactical Tech provides advocates with guides, tools, training and consultancy to help them develop the skills and tactics they need to increase the impact of their campaigning.

Women’s Link
Women’s Link Worldwide is an international NGO that provides technical assistance to women’s rights groups working strategically within the courts to promote gender equality through the development and implementation of human rights standards.  Women’s Link assists advocates in using international human rights law in national cases and bringing cases to regional and international tribunals.


Sex Workers and HIV/AIDS

Sex workers, along with other key affected populations (KAPs) such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs (PWID), are often considered at risk of HIV. UNAIDS defines sex workers as: Female, male and transgender adults and young people who receive money or goods in exchange for sexual services, either regularly or occasionally. Sex work varies between and within countries and communities. Sex work may vary in the degree to which it is more or less “formal” or organized, and in the degree to which it is distinct from other social and sexual relationships and types of sexual-economic exchange. 1 Although sex workers are one of the groups most affected by HIV, they are also one of the groups most likely to respond well to HIV prevention campaigns. Proof of this can be seen in countries such as Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, India and Thailand, where reductions in national HIV prevalence have been helped by initiatives targeting sex workers and their clients. – See more at: http://www.avert.org/sex-workers-and-hivaids.htm#sthash.qA4pe8Al.dpuf

Social and legal factors

Sex workers are often stigmatised, marginalised and criminalised by the societies in which they live, and in various ways, these factors can contribute to their vulnerability to HIV.

Even though sex work is at least partially legal in many countries, the law rarely protects sex workers. Around the world, there is a severe lack of legislation and policies protecting sex workers who may be at risk of violence from both state and non-state actors such as law enforcement, partners, family members and their clients. 11

For example, a sex worker who is raped will generally have little hope of bringing charges against their attacker. The lack of protection in such cases leaves sex workers open to abuse, violence and rape, creating an environment, which can facilitate HIV transmission. 12

Non-governmental organisations report that almost two thirds of the countries they work in have laws that make it difficult for them to work with sex workers. 13 In some countries, police use the possession of condoms as evidence that somebody is involved in sex work, further impeding sex workers’ efforts to protect themselves.

– See more at: http://www.avert.org/sex-workers-and-hivaids.htm#sthash.qA4pe8Al.dpuf

Ten reasons for the decriminalization of sex work in Kenya

1. Criminalization fuels and fosters violence against women, men and trans sex workers Sex work being criminalized makes it illegal for sex workers to work in their own homes or in establishments – the very places where they are safest because they can have security measures in place (i.e. cameras, neighbors, known exits). Also, in order to avoid coming to the attention of the police, street-based sex workers often abandon safety strategies such as working in pairs, soliciting in well-lit populated areas, and taking the time to carefully assess a client prior to entering a vehicle.

2. Criminalization undermines sex workers’ access to justice                                                Criminalization creates an adversarial relationship between police and sex workers. As a result, sex workers do not feel comfortable turning to the police when they are in need. Also sex workers are over-policed but under-protected. As a result, they are hyper-vulnerable to violence and predators target them with virtual impunity.


3. Criminalization hinders the ability to maintain physical and sexual health                                                      Social judgment of sex work is a significant barrier to sex workers’ access to health services. Not only do sex workers face abusive and disrespectful attitudes from healthcare providers, but these prejudices taint the ability of health professionals to adequately assess the situation and respond appropriately. As a result, sex workers may not receive the health services they require and do not feel that they can be forthright without being the object of discrimination. The police’s informal use of condoms as proof of ‘prostitution’ or to pressure sex workers to self-incriminate creates a powerful disincentive to carrying, and therefore using, the most effective protection available against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections

4. Criminalization denies sex workers the protection of labor laws
Sex workers do not have medical aid, parental leave, retirement plans or vacation pay. Nor do they have recourse when they are wrongfully dismissed or discriminated against at work. Sex workers cannot organize into labor unions through which they could address labor exploitation, bargain for better working conditions, or collectively negotiate wages.

5. Criminalization takes away the right to sexual autonomy
Adult women, men and trans persons freely consent to exchange sex for many different reasons including physical satisfaction, emotional reward, self-validation and financial benefit. There exists a continuum of socioeconomic sexual exchanges from donation to payment. The commercial aspect does not justify a criminal justice response. Also all persons have the right to choose what they do with their bodies – they have the right to have a baby or to have sex for pleasure or for profit or for both. In the 21st century, criminalizing consensual sex between adults is outdated. Laws should reflect the mores and values of the society.

8. Criminalization marginalizes and isolates sex workers
Sex workers are members of our communities. They are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, neighbors and friends. Criminalization undermines the ability of these citizens to be fully integrated into society. Street-based workers are particularly vulnerable to being alienated, ostracized and excluded from the communities in which they live and work. At times these workers are the objects of concerted efforts by vigilante community groups to displace them. It is difficult for sex workers to provide proof of their income. Without an institutionally recognized record of earnings it is very challenging to get credit for things like a mortgage or a car loan; even renting an apartment can be problematic.

 9. Criminalization is unnecessary to address harms  sex_workers_mai_mahiu
The prostitution laws are redundant. There are ample provisions in the penal code to sanction those who harm, abuse or exploit sex workers. There are laws to protect all citizens from criminal acts, including the prohibition of trafficking in persons and forcible confinement organized crime, physical assault, sexual assault, intimidation, extortion, theft and harassment. Ironically laws ostensibly put in place to protect sex workers criminalize the very people deemed vulnerable and in need of protection.

10. Criminalization legitimates discrimination – Criminalizing clients is equally, not the solution
The very existence of ‘prostitution’ laws positions sex workers (and their partners, employers etc.) as inherently different from ‘normal’ citizens and in the process reaffirms and legitimates that perceived difference. Discrimination against sex workers appears justified. In current legal discourse, the identity of people who work in the sex industry is confused with the work they do. All other aspects of those individuals are negated and all their behaviors and relationships are evaluated through the lens of this one activity. This is precisely what stigmatization is. The idea that sex workers are powerless victims in need of salvation is often used to justify criminalization. This delegitimizes and silences sex workers at the same time as it renders their diversity, engagement and agency invisible. When clients are targeted, sex workers’ customer base is eroded and they are more likely to take risks with new or unknown clients and/or provide services they would not otherwise be prepared to offer. They may also reduce the fees they charge which in turn means they must work longer and more often to generate the same income.


Survivors is an organization that fights for the rights of sex workers, promotes health awareness to its members and sex workers community at large

Founded in the year 1999, the organization has been empowering female sex workers,( F.S.W) on behavior change concept, providing eloquent knowledge on importance of Voluntarily Counseling and Testing Center (V.C.T),HIV/AIDS Information ,Information on how to prevent themselves from contacting Sexually Transmitted Diseases   S.T.I/S.T.Ds.

Survivors empower sex workers by teaching them about their rights and how to claim them when threatened. These tools enable sex workers to challenge physical sexual abuse by clients and police officers, and in some cases even prevent it.

Not only has Survivors observed a decline in the risks to these women`s health, but sex workers now have improved access to health care services.”At the time (of the detention), I didn’t know my rights. Thanks to Survivors Organization for training me as a paralegal .I am now able to stop the same situation from happening again. We simply tell the officers that we know our rights and that if they arrest us, we should be taken to the police station. If they demand bribe from us we refuse” says Eunice who is a member and also a trained paralegal.”It is a great privilege to be able to help others as a paralegal. Many sex workers who had never known that our constitution has a Bill of Rights now exercise those rights because of their experience.”

By ensuring the direct and central involvement of sex workers in the design and implementation of its projects, Survivors has remained attuned to the needs of the sex workers community and is better able to advance their rights and health in tandem.


Survivors Organization members protesting marking.END VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS RIGHTS.
Survivors Organization members protesting marking.END VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS RIGHTS.


Its such a shame how some people abuse their office….

I met this gentle man one night when out on my daily hustles as a sex worker, when he called me I knew had found a potential client who would pay well. I was not wrong indeed we agreed on using a condom and the price, we got to the room and got down to the agenda of the day, we used a condom but after the act I realized the condom had busted.

on seeing this I was shocked how this had happened because I made sure the condom was worn correctly while still pondering on this, the man took me by surprise telling me that he wanted to marry me and that he loves me very much but first we have to go for a HIV test, I told him I will think about it and get back to him being that I had his phone number.

We went back to the car and to my surprise he had the test kits in his car, I inquired where had got it the kits from and told me that he works at local hospital in busia county ,as a lab technician. I Refused but he locked the car and I had no option but to do the test, after the first test he said that he did not believe my result so he wanted to redo the test and I refused ,he started beating me up.

I struggled with him and managed to get out of his car, then I called for help from my fellow sex workers who are paralegals, I was shocked to know that he is a senior lab tech at a local hospital. I came to find out from my friends that this client is fond of doing that to sex workers and that he not only forces one to have a HIV test but also tears the condom knowingly.

Am meant to understand that only senior personnel are in the position of getting complete test kits with out being questioned and am just wondering how many more sex workers are going through what I went through.

My question is how many senior personnel are abusing their office out there???????



On 17 December survivors will hold a peaceful Demonstration which will be marked by sex worker in Busia, the procession start from Busia weighbridge to Busia customs and then back to the office premises where they will read out a speech.

Stigma and discrimination has been a big issue and also sexual harassment from our clients, police officers, health providers.DSC04542

To end violence and other negative attitudes, we shall let the community be aware that sex workers have their right like any other human being and is a profession like any other profession elsewhere. Despite our vulnerability, this is where we get our daily bread and assist our families and we are comfortable with it.

Our theme shall be red and black with the message end violence against sex workers and sex workers right are human rights. They will be music and dances with a banner my body my business.

You are all welcomed to join us mark and celebrate our day as sex workers.

Come one come all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!