South African Deputy President, Cypril Ramaphosa on Friday, March 11, 2016 launched the National Sex Worker Plan.
"It is about affirming the rights of all South Africans to life, dignity and health, regardless of their occupation, sexual orientation and circumstances," said Ramaphosa.
Calling on South Africans, Ramaphosa emphasised that the plan would not work if sex workers are stigmatised or ignored, adding that the power to fight the spread of HIV/AIDs is in the hands of sex workers.
"Use this plan to help our nation fight the scourge of HIV/Aids," he said to sex workers.
Ramaphosa lamented that sex workers hold the highest rate of HIV/AIDs, which is why it is everyone’s responsibility to fight the scourge.
"We must realise that we are faced with a very serious situation. This is very worrying."
"Aids is an acronym for 'Acqu
The National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and TB 2012-2016 states that sex workers need a comprehensive and nationally coordinated response. This should include HIV care, treatment and prevention services that address-exacerbating factors such as alcohol and substance use, including access to justice and legal protection to address violence and harassment of sex workers.
"We have to grasp the challenges of how we deal with the legal status of sex workers and also how our current laws are going to have to balance the interests of sex workers as well as the needs of society as a whole," Ramaphosa said.
Adding that though some sex workers do the job willingly and some are subjected to it, they should no longer be beaten or disgraced. He said that about 70,000 sex workers would benefit from the plan.
SANAC has partnered with Legal Aid SA to provide legal and paralegal support through a call centre service to sex workers who are arrested.