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The opportunity to meet other advocates and together claim rights has galvanized enthusiasm among sex worker activists for further collaboration and organizing. Held every three years by the Association for Women's Rights in Development AWIDthe forum brings open women's rights leaders and activists from around the forum to strategize, network, and learn. The absence of sex worker participation in international dialogues like AWID has contributed to a harmful divide between those who promote sex rights and those working to advance the human rights of sex workers.
Although AWID has been supportive of sex workers' rights in panels and materials, there has been a lack of sex worker voices in the forum itself. The experiences of sex workers in Southern Africa—including police abuse, denial of health services, forced "rehabilitation," and lack of access to mechanisms for redress—exemplify the importance of building alliances across movements to amplify sex workers' voices and improve their health and wellbeing.
SHARP and its partners used the forum as an opportunity to release the report's executive summary and provide local advocates with a platform to speak out about their experiences. Sex workers from across Southern Africa participated in the November International Forum on Women's Rights and Development in Cape Town, South Africa, to demand respect for their rights, an end to violence, and acknowledgement of sex work as work.