Authorities in Tanzania have arrested 800 people for alleged involvement in prostitution.
The country has intensified its clamp down on the commercial sex industry with reports that alleged customers were also arrested.
Human rights groups have criticised the arrests. The onslaught re-ignites the debate on the rights of sex workers and legalisation of the trade to reduce the abuse of workers.
Africa Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA), a Pan African Alliance of sex worker led groups based in Kenya says it “condemns the arrest of 500 sex workers, and 300 clients, allegedly for engaging in sex work”.
While prostitution is illegal in the majority of African countries, the practice is prevalent and the law is generally not enforced in the jurisdictions where it is decriminalised.
TANZANIA: ASWA condemns the arrest of 500 sex workers, and 300 clients, allegedly for engaging in sex work https://t.co/4II4u62ebY
— ASWA (@AfricaSexWork) March 16, 2016
Advocacy groups have called for the legalisation of sex work across Africa to lower HIV infection rates and protect the workers.
Organisations such as ASWA have been defending the rights of sex workers and advocating for the health and well being of all sex workers working in Africa.
However, the issue remains a divisive and controversial across Africa. Against the backdrop of the merits to protect workers from HIV, violence and abuse, should governments consider decriminalising sex work?