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Commercial Sex Work (CSW) is an age old practice which has maintained a steady growth in the world. It could be viewed as one of those lucrative jobs but with a high risk, it is even believed to be a legal practice in some part of the world but it is being regulated by law that does not only defend or protect them (CSW) but safety measures and precautions which a commercial sex worker should take is well known in these countries. So therefore incidences of abuse and reproductive health care are in a lower percentage.

Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Development is a child/youth serving organization whose engagement over the years since its inception has impacted and transformed the lives of many youths in the country. It is against this backdrop that the organization with funds from the British High commission have undertaken the challenge of addressing the Complex Health and Safety needs of Commercial Sex Workers in the western part of Freetown (Red-Light District)

It is evidently clear that Sierra Leone aligns with those countries where gross violations of human right, accompanied by incidences of abuse and a lower knowledge on reproductive health is still a challenge although certain in-roads are made.

This project does not only aim at reducing the incidences of abuse and improving the reproductive health care systems, but has a logical expression of preventing children from practicing commercial sex work. The project targeted five communities in the west end of Freetown namely; Lumley community Centre (Grass field), Murray Town community, Wilberforce Community, Brookfields Community and the Aberdeen Community of which the Brookfields community did the take-off. A stakeholders meeting was held in the five communities prior to the launch of the project. At CHASL House Kingharman road, a one day workshop was organized, as stipulated in the project, the targeted group or beneficiaries of this project are; the commercial sex workers themselves, Police Officers, health service providers, “BRAS” and “SISY’s” of these hot-sports and local authorities in each of the five community. Chief among the speeches that were delivered by the guest was that respect for human right and the right to access free health care facilities stood tall. The chairman of the occasion Mr. Lloyd H. Jusu Esq. affirms that legal actions are to be melted on defaulters of the law and respect for humanity should be held in higher esteem.

The Programme Officer, Mr. Habib T. Kamara gave the overview of the Workshop/Project. In his speech, he said that Lumley has the largest hot-spot in the Western District of Freetown, second is Aberdeen. He further stated that this is a growing concern for the future of this country and if an intervention is not made, the children on those shoulders rest the transformation of our country are going to be affected and infected.

The second phase of the project was a focus group discussion which was carried out in all hot-spot in the different communities. The head of outreach and communication officer, Mr. Edward N. Blake led this process to its logical conclusion. The recycling of condoms, quitting commercial sex work and the desire to live a productive and decent life formed part of our findings in all the hot-spot we visited. The Police on the other hand assured the public that they will from henceforth arrest and charge to court offenders who violates the rights of commercial sex workers.

The sex workers in the targeted communities now know where to make complains when their rights are violated. A good numbers of Commercial Sex Workers (CSW) now turn medical attention to the various community health centres.

Community leaders now accept that CSW are part of the communities and therefore their rights must be protected by all and sundry.

CHALLENGES:

In our view, in spite of the successes to implementing this project, there are still challenges with regards commercial sex work in the aforementioned communities. A good number of community members’ especially religious leaders still frown at this practice. Most commercial sex workers still do not turn up for medical services at the health centres for fear of being stigmatized.

Almost all of the targeted beneficiaries are willing to quit this trade but they do not have an alternative source of livelihood to supplement for the sex trade.

RECOMMENDATION:

In order to see a healthy nation, government and well-wishers should try by all means necessary to address the economic problems faced by commercial sex workers. Almost all of them are ready to call it a quit provided they have an alternative source of livelihood. We therefore recommend that skills training and business startups being given to sex workers which will eventually see them into new business engagements.


Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Development