We believe that the end of AIDS is possible if there is more focus on key populations. Our project in Zimbabwe addresses barriers faced by the sex workers community related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Driven by community champions, we work to realize a strengthened inclusive sex worker-led movement; improved human rights and reduced stigma and discrimination of sex workers; decriminalized sex work; and increased access to affirming and affordable health services and medicines.
Sex work is ‘immoral’
Zimbabwe is a low-income country of 12.6 million people. Zimbabwe is one of the Southern African countries with high HIV prevalence estimated to be 15%. A total of 1,600,000 people were estimated to be living with HIV in 2014. Female sex workers and their clients together account for approximately 12% of new HIV infections while HIV prevalence in female sex workers is estimated to be around 60%. Sex work is illegal in Zimbabwe and seen as immoral. Sex workers face violence, stigma and discrimination and other human rights abuses. The illegal status and human rights violations impede access to health services.
Sex workers claim a right-based HIV and SRHR response
Bridging the Gaps works with a Theory of Change approach. A Theory of Change is a description of a list of events that is expected to lead to a particular desired outcome. It is a visualization how change is believed to happen. In 2016, representatives of the sex worker community developed a Theory of Change that consists of short-,medium, and long term outcomes. The specified Theory of Change of the sex workers project describes how we plan to realize a strengthened inclusive sex worker-led movement; improved human rights and reduced stigma and discrimination of sex workers; decriminalized sex work; and increased access to affirming and affordable health services and medicines.
Through innovation and by building on previous work, we will strengthen civil society organisations’ ability to:
1. We facilitate community development
- Mobilising female, male, transgender and young sex workers to improve human rights literacy.
- Training sex worker leaders to represent the community.
- Strategizing a joint vision in safe spaces.
- Organizing legal clinics.
- Sensitizing family, friends and pimps on the human rights of sex workers.
- Strengthening the capacity of sex worker-led organisations.
2. We advocate for the continuously strengthening of services and upholding human rights
- Documenting human rights violations systematically through trained paralegals and peer educators.
- Advocating policy-makers and parliamentarians using documented human rights violation cases .
3. We deliver inclusive, rights-based and gender sensitive services
- Providing legal services and access to legal clinics.
- Providing healthcare workers sensitisation trainings on the needs of sex workers.
- Delivering peer-led services.
- Conducting a proud to serve campaign for healthcare workers to provide competent and responsive services for sex workers within a safe space.
- Organizing outreach clinics.
4. We foster global and in-country process and partnerships that reinforce results
- Building partnerships and networks to increase awareness on sexual exploitation of minors.
- Participating in relevant international forums focused on HIV and AIDS.
Our project builds on the strong advocacy work of our partner SRC (and through SRC ZIMSWA and POWWOW) to put sex workers’ health issues on the political agenda and to provide rights-based health services. Their work is internationally supported by Aidsfonds.
Our other projects in Zimbabwe
Bridging the Gaps also has a LGBT people project in Zimbabwe.