Cape Town sex workers get their own clinic in a South African first

13 June 2017 - 19:08 By Farren Collins
Image: Gallo Images/ Thinkstock

A first of its kind clinic for sex workers‚ with easy access to health care‚ counselling and legal services‚ has opened in Cape Town.

The Cym van Dyke Clinic is the only one of its kind in South Africa and is the result of collaboration between the Aids Health Foundation (AFH) and the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Task Force‚ or Sweat.

The free clinic is next to the Sweat office in Observatory and is also open to the general public.

Sweat spokeswoman Jayne Arnott said the advantages came from links with other services the NGO offered. “For example‚ we offer legal services and have a peer-led programme that engages people selling sex individually and collectively around sexual health and rights — as well as access to Sisonke‚ the sex worker-led movement‚” she said.

The clinic is open from noon to 8pm daily to suit the working hours of most sex workers.

AHF advocacy manager Larissa Klazinga said people would be able to access sexual and reproductive health services like family planning‚ HIV and STI testing‚ and general health services such as blood pressure checks and glucose testing.

“There will also be treatment for a range of diseases as well as antenatal care‚” Klazinga said.

“AHF recognises that sex workers live complex lives and we needed to make a space that ... would work for everybody including their kids. We’ve created a multi-functional space and we’re hoping that it can be utilised as much as possible.”

The clinic and staff were funded by AHF‚ but medication came from the government because it was still part of the “normal government clinic set-up”‚ according to Klazinga.

Arnott believed the clinic would be a safe space for sex workers‚ who were often stigmatised.

“This clinic is being promoted as a wellness clinic within the community‚ and people selling sex are a diverse group who will all have access to a community-based service‚” she said.

“The stigma and discrimination that sex workers can encounter at health facilities arise largely from staff attitudes‚ misconceptions and prejudice towards people selling sex.”