Who/What is Asijiki?


Asijiki Coalition for the Decriminalisation of Sex Work (“Asijiki”) is a group of sex workers, activists, advocates and human rights defenders who advocate for law reform for the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa. Becoming a supporter is open to organisations and individuals and targeted at members of civil society from all sectors including gender, women’s rights, human rights, legal and public health.

Asijiki’s principal aim is the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa. Currently, full criminalisation is the law – this has been in place since 1957, with clients being specifically criminalised since 2007. This has resulted in high levels of violence, a lack of access to basic services including health services and abuse of sex workers, including by police officers.

The decriminalisation of sex work would allow sex workers to function within a human rights framework, as it would entail the following:

  • the removal of criminal charges against sex workers
  • the operation of brothels and individual sex workers as ordinary businesses
  • the ability to implement laws protecting sex workers from special risks
  • the minimizing of discrimination and stigma around sex work, which will in turn enable sex workers to access basic services more easily
  • the potential reduction of abuse, together with increased reporting to the police



  • Asijiki’s main objective is to work together with the aim of obtaining law reform for the full decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa through advocacy and litigation.
  • Asijiki’s secondary objectives include:
  • Conduct advocacy to highlight the impact of criminalisation on sex workers health, human rights and limited access to services;
  • Advocate for the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa;
  • Promote, protect and defend the human rights of sex workers in South Africa;
  • Support strategic impact litigation instituted by supporter organisations that advocate and enforces sex workers human rights;
  • Challenge the negative stereotypes of sex workers and build the capacity of sex worker’s to advocate for human rights and the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa; and
  • Garner support of community members and the state by networking and raising awareness of the benefits of the decriminalisation of sex work.


Steering Committee

The standing steering committee entities are:
  • Sonke Gender Justice
  • Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT)
  • Sisonke (National Sex Workers Movement in South Africa)
  • The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC)
  • Independent Sex Worker Representative


Sonke Gender Justice is a non-profit, human rights and social justice organisation that strives to achieve gender equality in South Africa by building capacity and mobilising communities. Sonke works to create the change necessary for women, men, young people and children to enjoy equitable, healthy and happy relationships that contribute to the development of just and democratic societies. Sonke works across Africa to strengthen government, civil society and citizen capacity to promote gender equality, prevent domestic and sexual violence, and reduce the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS.



SWEAT has a 20-year history in organising sex workers, advocating for and delivering services to South African Sex Workers. SWEAT uses an evidence informed human rights based approach to address sex workers’ health; envisioning a South Africa where people who choose to sell sex are able to enjoy freedom, rights and human dignity. SWEAT’s core objective is for sex work to be decriminalised in South Africa.



Sisonke is a national movement of sex workers, established in 2003. Sisonke’s aim is to unite sex workers, improve their living and working conditions and fight for equal access to rights. Sisonke provides rights advice and referrals for legal support; outreach programmes including providing condoms and other safe sex materials; life skills training; and offering, together with SWEAT, a 24-hour counselling and referral helpline.



Womens Legal Centre has a vision of women in South Africa living free from violence in safe housing, free to own their own share of property, empowered to ensure their own reproductive health rights and able to work in a safe and equal environment. In order to fulfill its objectives, the WLC will, free of charge: litigate cases which advance women’s rights and are in the public interest, particularly constitutional cases; and produce briefs to assist courts in constitutional cases which concern women’s rights and gender equality. In addition, where resources permit, the WLC aims to provide women’s organisations with technical legal assistance in making submissions to parliament and other institutions.




Constance Nothando Mathe is the appointed Coordinator of the Asijiki Coalition. She holds a diploma in business management, and has previously worked as a volunteer for the Triangle Project, Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, and Women’s Legal Center. More recently, Constance worked at SWEAT as a peer educator, helpline counselor, and site coordinator. She is passionate about fighting for the rights of sex workers, speaking on behalf of those who are voiceless, and bringing about law reform.


Members of Asijiki

  • African Centre for Migration and Society (AMCS), WITS University
  • African Natural Medicine
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation
  • AIDS Legal Network
  • Amnesty International
  • BCARE Centre for AIDS Research Education
  • Childline South Africa
  • Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)
  • Civil Society Uthungulu
  • Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation
  • Doctors without borders(MSF)
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa
  • Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation
  • Etafeni
  • Families South Africa (FAMSA)
  • Gender Dynamix
  • Gender Health Justice Research Unit (GHJRU)
  • Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church
  • Greater Rape Intervention Project (GRIP)
  • Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)
  • JJM Health
  • Legal Resources Center
  • Lethabong Legal Advice Centre
  • Lethithemba Foundation
  • Lifeline Durban
  • Management Science for Health (MSH)
  • National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS
  • One in Nine Campaign
  • Oxfam South Africa
  • People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA)
  • Pride Shelter
  • Rape Crisis
  • Re-Action
  • Rights4Change
  • Right to Care
  • Section27
  • Senzakahle 
  • Social Health and Empowerment (SHE)
  • Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition (SRJC)
  • Sisonke
  • Social Change
  • Sonke Gender Justice
  • Stop Stockouts
  • The Justice Desk
  • Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP)
  • Trans Collective
  • Trans Research Education Advocacy & Training (TREAT)
  • Trans Wellness Project
  • Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)
  • Triangle Project
  • Trust for Community Outreach and Education  (TCOE)
  • Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC)
  • Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI)
  • Women and Democracy
  • Women on farms
  • Women’s Legal Centre (WLC)