The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, has advised Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to be careful in their advocacy for sex workers’ rights as means of combating HIV/AIDS in the country.
Binagwaho was on Wednesday speaking at the closing ceremony of a two-day partnership meeting at Serena hotel organized by Rwanda NGO-Forum to advocate for the intensification of HIV prevention for sex workers by fighting for their rights.
“I do support this struggle to combat HIV/AIDS in the country. But it should not be done as a way of promoting prostitution, but instead in looking for a solution to prostitution,” Binagwaho said.
Her comments came after over 100 Civil Society Organisation endorsed a position paper on Human Rights, HIV/AIDS and sex workers.
The paper, yet to be submitted to the Senate, advocates for the removal of Article 225 from the draft penal code which states that; “any person who engages in prostitution shall be liable to either, imprisonment for six months to three years or a fine of between Rwf 50,000 and Rwf 500,000 or both.”
CSOs say this is a hindrance to the fight against HIV/AIDS amongst this high risk group because it will force them underground and get limited chances of accessing health services.
“Commercial sex work is as a result of economic situation. Therefore starting them income generating activities would also help them get out of prostitution.” Binagwaho observed.