My Voice Matters: Victim to Survivor

In the city of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, where sex work is indirectly criminalized, a sex worker who went by the brothel name “Beauty” faced a chilling ordeal. She became a victim of sexual assault, a disturbing incident orchestrated by a perpetrator who assumed her line of work would render her voiceless and powerless.

Although the perpetrator did not fully succeed in their intent, the psychological trauma haunted Beauty, compelling her to contact GWIHR’s community paralegals for assistance. With tears in her eyes and her voice trembling, Beauty recounted the horrifying events of that ill-fated evening to the attentive paralegals.

Every detail, every emotion, and every ounce of her resilience were captured meticulously by their pens. This raw account, along with similar cases from other sex workers, formed a robust collection of evidence that GWIHR was determined to present to the local authorities – the Police and the Human Rights Commission.

The evidence presented revealed a grim reality, compelling and heart-wrenching in equal measure by the local authorities recognizing the urgency of addressing these crimes and the importance of providing justice for marginalized communities like sex workers.

Beauty’s case catalyzed change as the Police established a specialized task force to handle sexual assault cases involving sex workers. The task force laboured tirelessly, delving into evidence and conducting meticulous investigations to identify and apprehend the perpetrator. As the wheels of justice turned, Beauty’s courage and resilience resonated at every stage; with support from GWIHR, she found her voice amplified.

Ultimately, the perpetrator was caught and faced a choice: either face court trials or compensate Beauty financially. Opting for the latter, the perpetrator apologized and paid the specified amount. This outcome provided Beauty with a form of reparation and set a precedent – a glimmer of hope for others who had suffered in silence.

The collaboration between GWIHR, the Police, and the Human Rights Commission transformed Beauty’s experience of pain and suffering into a symbol of resilience and the triumph of justice.

Her journey from being a victim to becoming a survivor inspired others within the sex worker community to come forward, secure in the knowledge that their voices would be heard, their issues taken seriously, and their path towards justice illuminated.
This initiative was sponsored by African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) under her KASA initiative