Prostitution & Human Rights

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CSHR
CENTRUM FÖR STUDIET AV MÄNSKLIGA RÄTTIGHETER Göteborg University Centre for the Study of Human Rights __________________________________________________________________________________________

Prostitution, HIV/AIDS and human rights: A case study of sex workers in the township of Katutura, Namibia

Author: Carolina Hjorth Supervisor: Peter Johansson, CSHR April – September 2005

PROSTITUTION, HIV/AIDS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: A CASE STUDY OF SEX WORKERS IN THE TOWNSHIP OF KATUTURA, NAMIBIA

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ABSTRACT Millions of people currently live with HIV/AIDS around the world. Regionally, SubSaharan Africa is most affected, with some national HIV-prevalence rates reaching 30%. In Namibia, prevalence has recently dipped to 19.7%, after years of increasing levels. Women in Namibia account for more than half of new infections. Though prostitutes are not included as a group entity in national HIV surveys, it is estimated that HIV-prevalence levels among them are much higher than the national average. Two forms of prostitution exist in Namibia, both of which are criminalised through the Combating of Immoral Practices (Act 21 of 1980): exchange sex work and classic sex work. Since prostitution is illegal, sex workers are forced underground and become more vulnerable to HIV-infection. However, very little has been written about sex work in Namibia, and therefore no figures on prostitution are available. Failure to monitor HIV-prevalence rates among prostitutes can have the unwanted consequence that rates spread quicker than anticipated. The AIDS epidemic has highlighted the importance of access to adequate health care. The right to health is included in the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), of which Namibia is a signatory. However, people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) often face discrimination and stigma, in particular those who are engaged in sex work. They suffer discrimination twice over, and may thereby be hindered to access health care. The fieldwork study undertaken in preparation for this thesis found that many sex workers in the township of Katutura, on the outskirts of Windhoek, were denied access to health care. The right to education is also of relevance here; as the 2000 Namibian Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) concluded that knowledge about HIV/AIDS, and how it can be prevented, correlated with the respondents’ level of education. The respondents had acquired more extensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS had they attended school for several years. The National AIDS Control Programme (NACOP) embraces a human rights approach; however, both the above mentioned rights are violated daily in Katutura. Access to health care is in an HIV/AIDS context key to the possibility to lead a somewhat normal life with the infection. Within the concept of access is the availability of antiretroviral medication (ARVs), the prices of which has recently decreased on the global market but still remain out of reach for many countries. Namibia aims to supply ARVs for thousands of HIV-infected people; however, despite a pledge that this medication is available free of charge this study shows that for the very poor, AIDS treatment still remains out of reach.

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PROSTITUTION, HIV/AIDS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: A CASE STUDY OF SEX WORKERS IN THE TOWNSHIP OF KATUTURA, NAMIBIA

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ABSTRACT CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS GLOSSARY

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1. INTRODUCTION
1.1 PURPOSE AND QUESTIONS 1.2 LIMITATIONS 1.3 METHODOLOGY AND MATERIAL 1.3.1 The interviews 1.3.2 Secondary resources 1.4 DISPOSITION

2. BACKGROUND: HUMAN RIGHTS AND HIV/AIDS
2.1 CURRENT FIGURES ON HIV/AIDS 2.2 IN CONTEXT: NAMIBIA AND HIV/AIDS 2.2.1 HIV/AIDS in...
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