Nikodemus Aoxamub – Namibia

Nikodemus Aoxamub – Namibia

Date: July 13, 2013
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The Namibian government has signed the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, but after 22 years of independence, I am still not free. Discrimination against homosexuality is still rampant in Namibia. I’m 35 years old, and one of many gay sex worker in Windhoek. Recently, we have suffered so much discrimination due the fact that we’re gay. We are still bound by apartheid era laws, like the immoral practices act of 1957. It is out dated, but this legislation is still used against sex workers.

If a sex worker is raped, the policeman will accuse them of breaking the law. Instead of helping someone which is vulnerable, the law enforcement officials traumatize people again. This makes access to health care difficult as well; if the police refuse to take your case, how can you go to the hospital? If you tell a nurse that you were raped, she will accuse you of spreading AIDs. Stigma and discrimination is a huge problem.

I’m the Executive Director of Rights not Rescue. We operate in all regions of the country, and our main goal is to work towards the 28 targets of the SADC Protocol. We are demanding the decriminalization of sex work in the country. We have made some small steps, which we must celebrate. For example, sex workers are now recognized in the HIV/AIDs framework of the country. This shows that our advocacy is making progress. We are engaging with law makers and members of parliament. They want to see the data on sex work in the country, so they know how many people are affected and infected. I am confident that if we keep up the pressure, they will decriminalize sex work, and legalize same sex marriage.

About five years ago, sex workers in Namibia were taking their lives in their hands. Many sex workers were brutally murdered, in the most violent way you can imagine. There were cases where a head was found in one area, and legs in another. It was a shock to us as a nation. This is when we came together to form an alliance. We are connecting to other organizations, like the African Sex Workers Alliance, and Sisonke. These networks empower us. In our line of work, solidarity is very important. So many of us face rejection from our families, and that leaves us without support structures. So, legitimacy and support from other people is very important.

Our rights are so often violated that I constantly have to emphasize that sex workers have rights like any other citizen; we have the right to vote, and we have unalienable human rights. We should be treated like any other person, and ask for discriminatory laws to be abolished. We have a job like any other; it feeds our families. We want its legitimacy to be recognized.
Now that I have started working with Gender Links, I am able to speak out about the rights of gay and straight commercial sex workers. It has changed my life. We annually come together as families of sex workers, addressing issues faced through 16 days of activism.

I feel lucky to be one of the few gay commercial sex workers given a platform, to communicate with others in SADC through cyber dialogues. Through this platform, I have learned computer skills. As a sex worker, I didn’t know how to work with a computer. But now through Gender Links I have been able learn this piece of technology, and it has opened doors for me to advocate for gender equality issues. For the first time, I am able to communicate nationally and internationally using cyber dialogue platforms. This space has really opened up communication, and created a sense of togetherness between politicians and citizens. I’m thankful to the activism of Gender Links; we must all work for equality.

We are planning meetings with members of parliament in the near future, to talk with them about the human rights violations we are facing. We need their support to work with the justice system and law making system to decriminalize sex work.We have a goal for 2015. We want 0 new infections, 0 discrimination, and 0 related deaths. We have that commitment; this gives us something to work towards.


0 thoughts on “Nikodemus Aoxamub – Namibia”

Jackson Mwalundange says:

Firstly, Viva the Links. Great job you’re doing.

Secondly, Nico, the campaign against homosexuals is not an old war in parts (esp. Northern) of Namibia. From il tempore to independence homosexuals (gays and lesbians) were regarded as fully and equally human beings. They’d even marry smoothly without any frown from community. The situation changed after independence, with your Founding Father declaring war on homosexuals!

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