Red umbrella: Sex workers’ rights=human rights

Red umbrella: Sex workers’ rights=human rights

Date: February 1, 2011
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It might be the rainy season in many parts of Southern Africa, but that’s not why more than 100 red umbrellas were recently on display in Mauritius.

On Saturday 18 December 2010, under the initiative of Chrysalide Women’s Rehabilitation Centre, more than 100 citizens gathered for the first time in the yard of the Municipality of Beau-Bassin/Rose-Hill brandishing red umbrellas to commemorate the International Day to end violence against sex workers.

First used in 2001 by Venetian sex workers for a demonstration against human rights abuses, the red umbrella has since been adopted as the symbol of sex workers’ rights and resistance to oppression. Participants included representatives of civil society and non-governmental organisations working in the fields of drug abuse and HIV and AIDS, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life and the Commission of the Indian Ocean.

With the increasing feminisation of HIV and AIDS over the past several years, sex workers are increasingly at risk and often also victims of violence. The objective of the red umbrella march was to raise awareness of the plight of sex workers in Mauritius, especially amongst the general public.

One social worker said: “a march in itself won’t achieve much, but it confronts and gives visibility to a prevailing issue.”

This initiative is one of the outcomes of a committee recently set up to draft an action plan which will include a study on prostitution in Mauritius.

The committee, which includes volunteer lawyers, is drafting the legal procedures to set up an organisation to represent the sex workers. “Currently some 20 sex workers are willing to accept medical help and psychological support,” said Georgette Talary, a Chrysalide member.

Source: L’express
Image: Clip Art, Microsoft Word


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