To commemorate the International Sex Workers Day 2ND June 2022, the Global women’s Health Rights and Empowerment Initiative (GWHREI) organised a talk show to discuss on the theme: Access to Justice.
Speaking to the participants, Barrister Victor said based on history, hundreds of sex workers had gathered in Saint-Nizier Church in Lyon, France, expressing their frustration and fury over their criminalised and exploitative living conditions on June 2, 1975.
Listing Their demands to include freedom from police harassment, a fair investigation into the murders of sex workers, reopening of hotels for their work and so on.
After gaining momentum and support from political leaders, and feminist and human rights groups, the day was first commemorated in 1995.
International Sex Workers’ Day is observed on 2 June every year across the world. This day is celebrated to highlight the rampant exploitation of sex workers and the terrible conditions they live in. which aimed at raising awareness about the abuse and victimisation of sex workers.
During the talk show, participants were made to understand that even though Nigerian law does not legalize commercial sex work, it is vague if such work is performed by an independent individual who operates on his or her own accord without the use of pimps or a brothel. He also pointed out that Prostitution in Nigeria is illegal in all Northern States that practice Islamic penal code.
Also speaking on Access to justice, Barrister Victor asserted that it is an essential element of the rule of law in essence, access to justice refers to the affirmative steps necessary to give practical content to the law’s guarantee of formal equality before the law. Delivery of justice should be impartial and non discriminatory, taking necessary steps to providing fair, transparent, effective and accountable that promotes access to justice for all, sex workers are also entitled all these regardless of our profession,sexual orientation or sexual practice.
Participants at the event stated that a sex worker reporting a rape incidence is not taken seriously because of the stigma attached to sex work and sex worker. They also complained bitterly on intimidation by the client, knowing fully well that state actors will blame the sex workers, this make them vulnerable to violence.
In commemoration of this day, sex workers carried write ups like:
My body, My business.
Only Rights will stop the wrong.
Fight violence, not sex work.
End police harassment.
Sex workers have a right to freedom from discrimination.
In conclusion, Access to justice is a Fundamental Right guaranteed by the Constitution to “citizens” which obviously includes sex workers.