Judiciary bans Sex Workers Associations in Malawi


Sex workers are available world wide. There are lots of different reasons why women enter the sex industry. Some get involved for purely financial motivation, some enjoy the work, others are forced or coerced into the industry by a partner or gang while more still will feel like sex work is the only option they have which is never true.

Recently, The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in Malawi has reacted on the formation of sex workers associations in different districts in the country. The government seems to be unhappy about the development.

There have been widely known reports that Thyolo Sex Workers Association elected new leadership during elections that were held recently at Luchenza Community Hall in Thyolo district. This election was announced officially on national TV which eventually called for questioning.

In response to this, Judiciary Spokesperson, Mlenga Mvula said the practice of prostitution is illegal in the country. He explained that the constitution didn’t give room for such practise.

“Prostitution is illegal in Malawi and the law says that living on the proceeds of prostitution is an offence punishable by law”

He further quoted:
“According to Section 145(1)(a,b), anyone who knowingly lives wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution; or in any public place persistently solicits or importunes for immoral purposes, shall be guilty of misdemeanor.”

In addition, Thyolo District Council AIDS Coordinator, Davis Kavalo said the Council has been working on how to reduce HIV in the country with awareness programmes for sex workers as one way of fighting the spread of the virus. He was optimistic that the leadership will continue helping to address HIV issues and the association gets its funding from National Aids Commission (NAC).

Moreover, the country doesnt permit any support for prostitution. Section 147(1)(a) of Malawi constitution also states that any person who owns, controls, manages, supervises or otherwise , alone or in association with another person, a house or business for prostitution; shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment for fourteen years. Thyolo District Council AIDS Coordinator, Davis Kavalo has been queried for taking part in such act which is against the constitution.

On the average, sex workers are 10 times more likely to become infected with HIV than normal workers in the general population. However, there are significant variations between regions and countries but the ratio of sex workers still surpasses the normal workers in every country.

In addition, in low- and middle-income countries, HIV prevalence among sex workers is an estimated 12%. However, it shows that sex workers are more exposed to contacting sexually transmitted diseases.

HIV prevalence of sex workers is 50 times higher than in the general population in some countries also, the study of 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found an average HIV prevalence of 37% among sex workers. This is a confirmation that such act has to be stopped for health safety.

As a result, a lot of sex workers suffer long term health issues. Many of these health issues, especially STDs and violent assaults, can lead to problems with fertility and miscarriages, something that can have a big impact on future relationships. Also, Sex workers who experience violence, manipulation and abuse during their time in the industry can experience long term trauma.

Malawi has urged its citizens to abstain from sex working. It has confirmed that it is a bridge of law if such is practised. It further said that whoever supports such act will also be arrested as it is illegal to do so. However, it has been advised that sex working should be stopped because it is unethical and has everlasting negative effects.

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