Sex Worker Sector

” a Sector is a group of organisations that democratically represents a defined constituency and is appropriately representative around a common theme aligned to the over-arching subject of strategy for HIV, STI’s and TB” (SANAC)


The Sex Work Sector (SWS) is a relatively new SANAC Sector, having been loosely constituted in 2009, but only actively engaging in SANAC meetings in 2010 and 2011 in the lead up to the introduction of the new NSP. SWEAT is the secretariat of the sector. The sex work sector is the only sector currently engaging with and involving directly, people who are criminalised.

The Sex Work Sector convenes itself under the following guidelines.

Composition of the Sex Work Sector

  • The broader sector is made up of representatives of organisations, and members of the Sisonke Sex Work Movement, who are commercial sex workers. (The Sisonke Sex Workers Movement is not a registered NGO, but is a national movement, membership of which is restricted to sex workers themselves. Sisonke has national membership, and provinces elect a leadership Committee that regularly meet and organise sex workers in their regions. For this reason Sisonke is an essential stakeholder in the Sex Work Sector);
  • It is a principle of this Sector that at least 50% of the Sex Work Sector is made up of sex workers, and that at least 1 of the 3 leaders of the sector is a member of Sisonke (who are all sex workers).
  • These sex work sector members must commit themselves to attending meetings, reading correspondence and communicating with beneficiaries (sex workers) the results of SANAC and the SWS’s work, and consult with them on issues requiring their input;
  • All members of the SWS have access to sex workers directly, or access to service providers to sex workers and they maintain links with these constituencies, report to the SWS on results of any consultations/meetings or workshops;
  • The 3 leaders of the Sector are responsible for communicating with and consulting with SWS members, as well as representing the interests of the Sector at SANAC meetings

How are leaders elected?

  • Leadership of the sector were elected at the Sex Work Symposium 2013
  • Leadership will be reviewed annually, but leaders will stand until 2016, the end of the current NSP, and for 6 months thereafter for handover to the new elected leaders.
  • Should a leader become unavailable or withdraw, the Sector will appoint a replacement (this may be done via electronic communication, until an election can be held)
  • The sex work leaders will attend the Civil Society Leaders meetings and forum, and undertake to report back to its membership the results of these meetings (as well as inform membership ahead of time the content of the meetings so that issues might be raised)


  • Members of the Sector are responsible for communicating with sex workers and service providers in their constituencies
  • They communicate with these groups through regular workshops, outreach and other means and through service provision
  • The SWS will endeavour to ensure it raises funds to support the popularisation of the Sex Worker Sector Plan and other activities it agrees is necessary for the successful implementation of the NSP and Sex Work Sector Plan
  • Members are required to attend meetings, communicate progress and share new developments they are aware of


  • The SWS communicates with members via email and maintains a list of members that is updated at least annually
  • SWEAT will maintain a list of all members and will ensure that communication is maintained with regard to progress, meetings etc
  • The SWS must meet, reflect on its own performance and review the progress of the Plan
  • SWEAT will keep a record of these meetings and their attendance records and distribute this to all members
  • The SWS communicates with sex workers through direct engagement, SMS alerts and any other means

Roles and Responsibilities

  • The sector is responsible for the development of a Sex Work Sector Plan, this plan forms a guide for its own activities, and SANAC as a whole. The Sector plan is based on the NSP, and incorporates current health policy and structures. The Sex Work Sector, with SANAC as a whole, will review this Sector Plan annually as part of its activities.
  • Members of the SWS will elect or appoint its members to various committees in the SANAC structures
  • It may establish working groups or similar structures
  • Develop, implement and monitor mechanisms for consultation, communication and accountability
  • Ensure that sex worker concerns, perspectives and experiences are communicated to relevant structures and processes
  • Members will participate and collaborate with Provincial AIDS Councils, District AIDS councils and Local AIDS councils where they are located

Sex Work Sector leaders 2015:

  • Kholi Buthelezi (National leader)
  • Thulisile Khoza (National and KZN Provincial leader)
  • Sally Shackleton (technical assistance: National)

Terms of Service:

Sector leaders will have a term of office for the duration of the NSP and will ensure there is adequate hand-over when their term has ended. Sector leaders must report back to Sector members and must represent the interests and promote the decisions of the sector at SANAC meetings. Should a sector leader leave the employment of the member organisation, they will no longer be a member of the sector and will be replaced.

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