GWIHR Addresses Media Infodemics About Sex Workers in Abia State

Greater Women Initiative for Health and Rights (GWIHR) is a sex worker-led community-based organization founded with a strong desire and passion for aiding in the growth of sex workers in their diversity. On 25th August 2022, GWIHR organized a one-day sensitization workshop with sex workers and the community of stakeholders. The workshop was held to counter the media infodemic about sex workers, especially as it concerns their choice of language when reporting issues of sex workers.
The Executive Director of GWIHR, Aseme Josephine, beseeched the workshop to address an infodemic publication by Guardian Newspaper dated 13th July 2022 (group sensitises sex workers on decent jobs) on a sexism meeting organized by GWIHR for sex workers. She publicly criticized and condemned the practice of the media for referring to sex workers' jobs as an "indecent job or sexual promiscuity act" to be derogatory and unacceptable. Instead, she explained that the income-generating skill acquisition program created by GWIHR only widens the scope and range of choices for economic livelihood for sex workers and is not a medium of luring sex workers away from sex work, as the decision to exit sex work and change business is a thing of personal choice and decision. Josephine urged the Media to be aware of the danger of misinformation in our society today, so they should use their platform to condemn all stereotypes and misinformation because they are dangerous and can tarnish the image of another or cause environmental harm. In addition, she enlightened the participants on the impact of gender stereotypes, gender equality/equity, stigma, and discrimination and how it has fueled violence, targeted sex workers, and increased vulnerability to HIV.
Sex workers' leaders in the meeting also shared their lives experience with violence and lack of inclusion in the state government schemes and opportunities, most especially during COVID-19, and urged the government to recognize their fundamental human rights and support them by creating opportunities to improve their wellbeing and security. Josephine beseeched the Ministry of Women Affairs to include sex workers in their program designs as the majority of sex workers are women and as such should be recognized by the Institution and also support GWIHR in their fight to create a safer environment for sex workers and their children, create programs that will help sex workers make informed choices rather than stigmatizing and discriminating against them. Finally, she expressed GWIHRs' commitment to empowering sex workers' voices and supporting the State to end sex trafficking as the organization is totally against that.
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