1997/98 Report of the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT)

April 15, 1997



The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) was formed in September 1994. As a result of fieldwork undertaken by Shane Petzer and a research study by Ilse Pauw it became apparent that there was no specific, targeted programmes reaching sex workers in the greater Cape Town metropole and surrounds. Based on a harm reduction model, SWEAT seeks to decrease the incidence of HIV infection and STD's amongst the sex working population through advocacy, education, counselling and support. In order to deal with HIV and health issues, SWEAT deals with a range of social issues affecting sex workers disability in accessing the mainstream service providers in the region.

With an accessible Centre, SWEAT is able to provide a range of services to sex workers. These include:

  • Support and Counselling
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Referral service to outside resources
  • Effective condom distribution to sex workers on the streets and in the ever increasing city parlours, agencies and stripper/sex clubs.
  • On site Safer Sex Education -- HIV and STD workshops
  • Monthly newsletter
  • Easy to read pictorial/written guides to safer sex for sex workers and their clients
  • Information Line and Telephonic Counselling
  • Nightly outreach by peer fieldworkers and professional support staff.

[Table of Contents]


SWEAT operates within the greater Cape Town metropole reaching sex workers from all sectors of the population. The Province has an estimated population of 4.3 Million people. ( 2.3 million Coloureds, I million Black Africans, and I million Whites. The City itself is reckoned to have a population of 3 million people).

Workers in the sex industry reflect the general population. In other words more Coloured people work the sex industry than do Whites. However it is estimated that more Black sex workers work in the sex industry than Whites do, given the historic legacy of being disadvantaged and marginalised. Migrants move from the Ciskei, Transkei and more recently refugees and other illegal aliens come to the city with expectations of work and safety. With limited resources the Western Cape isn't capable of housing, providing jobs for all its occupants. Many resort to illicit activities to make ends meet. Refugees already living in a milieu of illegitimacy find health and legal resources (aside from limited housing) inaccessible. SWEAT has noticed an increase in migrant and alien people resorting to prostitution in order to survive.

Limited education and language barriers as well as the social, legal and cultural stigma and discrimination that sex workers have to cope with hamper healthcare workers from reaching this hard to reach population. SWEAT has in its three and half years of non-judgemental intervention been successful in reaching sex workers.

No research study reports incidence of HIV/STD's amongst sex workers. The Virological data collection studies in the Western Cape however reveal an increase in the 2.5% prevalence of HIV in the province.

It is well documented that sex workers play an important role in safer sex education. Marginalising and stigmatising sex workers does little to AIDS prevention efforts. Ensuring a constant supply of condoms through fieldworkers enables SWEAT to reach vulnerable men and women in the sex industry for health promotion and HIV prevention education. In addition SWEAT's intervention with a targeted population has repercussions beyond the sex industry. A safer, healthier sex industry, means a safer, healthier broader society.

[Table of Contents]


SWEAT is the only independent secular health education and advocacy body in South Africa with a focus on implementation. Constant police harassment and societal prejudice hamper sex workers ability to gain clear information on HIV and safer sex. Prejudicial healthcare workers limit condom accessibility. Fear of discrimination following disclosure as a sex worker and possible legal recrimination limit sex workers agility in accessing appropriate healthcare and services.

[Table of Contents]


It is estimated that there are some 200 brothels in Cape Town. SWEAT through its Indoor Outreach Programme reaches some 50 of these parlours. (Limited resources have focused our energies on serving those brothels well). A Fieldworker and support professionals service these businesses with condoms, safer sex and HIV Workshops and distributes monthly newsletters as well as other appropriate resource material. One on one education and counselling as well as group intervention has proved a successful means of intervention.

The Outdoor Programmes fieldwork does much the same work. However unique Police-Sex Worker Forums have emerged in some Police jurisdictions as a result of fieldwork and improved relationships between police, community and sex workers. Sex workers act as the eyes and ears of the neighbourhood in exchange for less community interference in their work and decreased police harassment. In some areas the forums meet as often as once a month with sex workers, community representatives and police meeting to discuss issues of mutual concern such as rape, abuse ,crime and drug dealing.

SWEAT has a Centre conveniently located in Community House in Salt River. This is the heart beat of the organisation providing administrative support to the staff, a place for sex workers in distress to come to, a resource for professionals interested in sex worker issues from as diverse disciplines as medicine, social work, psychology to law and policing.

SWEAT works with numerous governmental and NGO organisations to access sex workers as appropriate a service as deemed necessary.

[Table of Contents]


  • 25 Health Promotion Workshops
  • 155 health Promotion Folders
  • Increased fieldwork on the streets
  • 5 Outdoor condom distribution points
  • 135 000 condoms distributed so far
  • Forums in five police jurisdictions (direct liaisons)
  • Drop in Centre proving crisis intervention support and referrals.

[Table of Contents]


SWEAT faces new challenges in the new financial year. Amongst other we are in urgent need of funding to continue our vital work. The other challenge is that the organisation needs to grow beyond its pioneering phase and into a sustaining mode. The appointment of a new Director will ensure that policy gets put into place and with the assistance of the administrator that administration of the organisation goes on unhinded, thus enabling programmes personnel and volunteers to be creative, innovative and deliver on their projects.

  1. The Department of Health which has traditionally been our main source of funding has slashed its budgets dramatically for AIDS prevention in the province. We are unable to access national funds due to a restructuring in the way in which moneys are allocated (Moneys traditional to the Western Cape are being distributed to other provinces). This means that our main funding supplier is drying up. Our allocation for provincial moneys has been slashed as well.

  2. Our continued funding from the AIDS Foundation will need to be motivated to increase from R 10 000 per month to R 15 000 in order to continue to deliver.

  3. We need to expand our funding base to mainstream corporates in order to keep the prevalence of HIV infection as low as possible.

  4. Funding possibilities with overseas donors need to be explored more fully when the new Director comes on Board in February 98.

[Table of Contents]


SWEAT was affiliated to Triangle Project for the first few years of its development. In accordance with the funding act the moneys raised were audited by Moores and Rowlands in Cape Town. These records can be obtained in writing from Triangle Project at P. O. Box 43282, Woodstock 7915. Alternatively their Director can be reached at tel: (021) 448-3812 or email: triangle@icon.co.za

As SWEAT became an independent body as of 1 April 1997 this financial years statements will only be available later in the year. SWEAT will once again employ the competent services of Moores Rowland which is an internationally recognised auditing company.

Our daily expenditure is managed by our Administrator and our monthly accounts are managed by Barry Franck and Associates (accountant).

SWEAT is permitted by the Director of Fund-raising in terms of the Act. A copy of the Fund-raisers Director permission can be obtained in writing from SWEAT Administration Offices during hours 12:30 to 16H30 Monday to Fridays.

[Table of Contents]


Fund-raising Number: 08 801162 0006 Physical Address:
2nd Floor Community House,
41 Salt River Rd.
Salt River. Cape Town 7925

Postal Address:
P. O. Box 373,
Woodstock 7915.
Cape Town. South Africa.

Telephone Numbers:
(021) 448-7875
(021) 448-7876

Facsimile Numbers:
(021) 448-7857 or alternatively (021) 47-6152

Email: sweat@iafrica.com

Contact Persons:
The Board Members or Ms Loren Brener SWEAT Administrator

Project Locality:
Cape Town, Western Cape Province. South Africa

Banking Details:
Standard Bank of South Africa
Branch Code: 02-47-09-15
Name of Account: SWEAT
Type of Account: Current Account
Account Number: 07 11946 14


Director: Ms Shannon Marsh - MPH
Administrator: Ms Loren Brener
Programmes Manager: Vasilis Kapetonakis B. socsci (Social Worker)
Outdoor Womens Programme: Ilse Pauw (M Clinical Psych) and Niesa Jacobs plus two future recruits
Indoor Programme: Vasilis Kapetonakis and one future recruit
Research Unit: Loren Brener: M. Research Psych and Ilse Pauw (Consultant)
Training Unit: Shane Petzer CSAW (SA) and Ilse Pauw


Sylvia Abrahams
- AIDS Co-ordinator for the Provincial Administration of the Western Cape

Gail White
Co-ordinator for the Society for Family Health Western Cape

Maria Neethling
Madam -Bows Escort Agency

Shane Petzer
Southern African Representative for the International Network for Sex Work Projects (co-founder of SWEAT) (formerly employed by SWEAT, now serving in a voluntary Board capacity)

Advocate Helene Combrinck
Dept: Criminology University of the Western Cape

[Table of Contents]

[Rights Groups]

Created: April 18, 1998
Last modified: January 25, 2000
PO Box 373, Woodstock 7915
Cape Town, S. Africa
Tel: (021) 448-7875
Email: sweat@iafrica.com