The power of peer education

Published: May 15, 2013

I am very happy that I am a woman now, in spite of the sacrifices, intolerance, and stigma I always experience. I took androgen suppression and female hormones, all self-prescribed. These help my body to look the way I want, but it has been a month now without experiencing sexual pleasure, no orgasms, no libido. I am willing to give up this aspect of my life in order to look and see myself as a woman. At the moment, one of my biggest concerns is the lack of friendly health facilities for sex workers and other key populations to go to. It is not nice to know that I will be treated harshly in a health centre, because of who I am and what I do, and that If I want someone to help me with my health, I will have to pay a lot more money than others. People with HIV also suffer, because of a general lack of education and the stigma related to HIV. Many people do not know what they say. They tend to think that everybody who is not heterosexual has got HIV. Then, it is not easy to get good medical care. Another challenge is the overall lack of condoms, lubricants and other prevention materials. I help the girls, and that is why so many times I run out of condoms for myself, but I do it because I know I am educating them. In this way, they protect their bodies and take better care of themselves.

The ones who are informed about their rights can defend themselves

Besides the discrimination in health centers, sex workers like myself are daily faced with abuse by the authorities. The ones who are informed about their rights can defend themselves, but those without knowledge are spitted in the face. From my position as peer educator, I teach the girls about their rights, and I encourage them to dignify their work. Then they can value themselves and think of a different life. It is important for the colleagues to understand sex work as work, not as an activity that defines themselves, but simply as a money making activity. The girls are so grateful. When I meet them in the streets, what they say, how they treat me, I can totally feel their support and recognition of what I do as a peer educator at CIPAC. Personally, I am willing to become more and more involved in activism. For that reason, I want to learn more; how to raise funds, promote education, work as an organisation, and so on. I have learned so many things, but the other girls did not reach that point yet. My ambition is that my peers fully understand the importance of CIPAC’s work and join me in my efforts. I have great expectations about the work of CIPAC and I hope to achieve our dream: a society without hostility against key populations such as sex workers, transsexuals and people with HIV, and access to good health services for everybody.

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