Sex workers, who celebrated the International Sex Workers Rights Day, last week (2 March) in Windhoek, are demanding the legalization of prostitution, one of the oldest trade in the world.
Prostitution, however, remains illegal in Namibia and the Ombudsman, John Walters, who was invited by sex workers, said that when prostitution will be legalized in the country. “For the first time the International Sex Workers Rights Day was celebrated in Namibia, but sex work and prostitution are still not legal in Namibia.”
He says he’s not against sex workers, adding; “Namibia is a free independent country and each individual has his/her own choice to do what they want to do with their life.”
The sex workers made use of the opportunity to express the difficulties they are facing. Scholastica Goagoses, Director of The Red Umbrella, an organization advocating for sex workers’ rights, says as a human being she doesn’t understand why her job cannot be legalized in Namibia. “Sex work is already legalized in many other countries in the world. If it becomes legal we won’t be treated with so much discrimination and hate from the public. We are beaten up by our clients, sometimes we are not paid for the job that was successfully done and the public call us bad names and they talk unpleasant things about us behind our backs.”
Nikodemus Auchomub (known as Mama Africa), a transgender sex worker and director of Rights Not Rescue Namibia, says that he has always been living and working on the street. “I went from a street kid to a sex worker. Namibia’s Founding President, diplomats and freedom Fighter told the police to arrest sex workers and to chase them away if they see them looking for clients. Mr. President, we sex workers are also human and children of this world. Let us stop violence and discrimination against sex workers.”
“We sex workers are denied our rights. They say vote for us for a better independent country, but when we vote and raise our voices about human rights violations, no one listens. They don’t deliver on their promises. It is all lies!” says Auchomub.
Mamma Africa also revealed that a few years back when he was in police custody he was assaulted and sexually abused by a certain group of Police officers.
Tomas Lopez from the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA), who researched the sex workers in Namibia, says there are no accurate numbers of sex workers in the country, but claims that records indicate that there are about 5000 sex workers in Windhoek and 1200 in Katutura alone. He further says that 90 percent of sex workers in Windhoek are female between the age groups of 19 and 30.
During the event, three books related to sex work in Namibia were launched. The books are Sex work, HIV and Access to Health Services in Namibia, Sex Work and HIV in Namibia and Sex Work and HIV-Reality on the Ground.
Prostitution in Namibia is illegal, but remains a very common practice.