Senegal gives sex workers identification cards in a bid to protect them

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In most African countries, sex workers are at risk of being treated unfairly, marginalized and abused, not to mention the general risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. However, in Senegal, the government is doing all it can to protect sex workers by registering them and giving them a means of identification.

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In Senegal, by law a person can start working in sex trade as soon as they clock 21. The registering of sex workers introduced in the 1980s is has seen the reduction in prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, and the ill-treatment of women who practice the trade.

Registration of Sex Workers : How Does It Work?

The sex workers are asked to register and undergo constant medical checkup every month to ensure that their ID cards stay valid. Refusal to do so can result into her being jailed or fined.

Sex workers who contract HIV/AIDS do not have their ID cards revoked and can continue to practice as long as they continue to take the anti retroviral drugs.

Benefits of registration include access to free healthcare and medical check up, education and free condoms. While this system is welcome by some sex workers as it reduces their risk of infection and marginalization by a huge rate, a number of sex workers would rather not register to be given ID cards as they fear that doing so may affect them in future. Others also say that men should be included in the registration as some men practice sex trade.

The system of regulation of sex trade began during the colonial days by the French. The French introduced it to reduce transmission of diseases. It was later reintroduced by the Senegalese government.

While other countries battle sex trade itself and still have high rate of prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, Senegal seems to have found a way to embrace sex trade and reduce transmission of diseases among it’s citizens.

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