Reducing Violence against Sex Workers


Relevent Country: Mozambique

Aidsfonds is inviting organisations led by sex workers in Zimbabwe and Mozambique for the Hands Off programme.

Hands Off II Programme

It is increasingly recognised that societal barriers, such as stigma, discrimination, and gender based violence, hinder access for key populations to HIV prevention and need to be addressed to get on track to end AIDS by 2030. The risk of acquiring HIV is 26 times higher for female sex workers than for other adult women, 34 times higher for transgender women than for other adults, and 25 times higher for gay men and other men who have sex with men than for other adult men. Large-scale research shows that if violence against sex workers is tackled, they can prevent up to 25 percent of new HIV infections.

The first phase of the Hands Off programme (2014 – 2019) has proven that the Hands Off model, a combination of (I) engagement with police in the HIV response, (II) crisis response and litigation, and (III) movement building results in reduced violence against sex workers. Hands Off 2 (2019- 2025) works directly with sex worker-led groups, police and NGOs working on human rights and health services. Hands Off targets female, male and transgender sex workers. The programme is funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Maputo and is part of the regional Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights programme (EKN SRHR).

Priority Areas

Empowering young key populations

  • Young people, especially young sex workers (18-29 years) in all their diversity, continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. Hands Off aims to strengthen leadership of young people within sex worker movements e.g. by partnering with youth-led networks; fostering meaningful participation and youth leadership; and advocate for tailor-made interventions for young people within sex worker’s communities. Aidsfonds strongly encourages proposals that focus on young sex workers.
  • Digitalisation and climate change
  • The use of digital tools among sex workers is increasing due to the increasing availability of the internet and online platforms. Aidsfonds encourages activities that include digital service delivery, or promote the online safety of sex workers.
  • In its work, Aidsfonds also aims to address the impact of climate change on public health. Activities to make sex worker-led organisations more sustainable and climate resilient, will be welcomed.

Hands Off partnership

  • Becoming part of the Hands Off programme goes beyond just receiving a grant. As an organisation, you become part of the Hands Off partnership with specific requirements and obligations (e.g. documenting Human Rights Violations against sex workers), but also opportunities, such as peer to peer learning, participation in partner meetings with other partners from the region and (sub)- regional advocacy.
  • Hands Off Goals and Example Activities (not exhaustive)
  • An empowered, resilient, and united sex worker movement demands it’s rights

Example Activities 

  • Empowerment of community organisations to work together toward a common advocacy goal (campaigns, networks, partnerships etc.)
  • Organisational capacity strengthening (financial, governance, (young) leadership, programme management, monitoring and evaluation, fundraising, communications, registration, resource mobilisation)
  • Capacity strengthening for meaningful involvement of young, male and transgender sex workers.
  • Rights literacy training, Movement building, provide safe spaces for sex workers
  • Increased access to and use of justice and health systems inclusive for all sex workers

Example Activities 

  • Strengthening and providing community-led prevention, care & health services (peer outreach, peer education, paralegal, peer-based psychosocial support, helplines, emergency response systems, rapid response systems)
  • Providing access to right-based health and psychosocial services (service mapping, training health and social professionals, providing sex worker friendly health care services, assess and score health care and wellbeing facilities)
  • Increasing sex workers’ access to justice and legal systems (providing legal support, training judiciary
  • A more supportive, enabling and inclusive environment for sex workers

Example Activities 

  • Communities provide input/co-write guidelines towards a policy change including policy development, blocking legislation, adoption of policies, change criminalizing laws and policies. Or contribute to the implementation of existing laws and policies.
  • Sex workers influence attitude of government actors and decision makers and voice their concerns in networks and/or towards donors.
  • Campaigns and training to advance sex workers’ rights, address/reduce human rights violations, advocate for legal reform, gender injustices, stigma and discrimination against sex workers in society, health care settings, media, religious community, law enforcement etc.
  • Campaigns, media monitoring, media sensitisation, training of faith-based and community leaders, strengthened relationships with religious leaders, community support groups, community crisis response groups, capturing and documenting human rights violations, research, evidence for advocacy
  • Sex workers are protected and served by law enforcement

Example Activities 

  • Working on safe sex work locations and respectful behaviour between police and sex workers (strengthen partnerships, paralegal support in engaging with police, police sensitisation at station level, joint outreach to hotspots)

Funding Information

  • The total available amount under this call is 140.000 euro for 2024, including €90,000 for Mozambique and €50,000 for Zimbabwe.
  • Your application can include a maximum amount of €50.000 for the full period (1 January – 31 December 2024), or €20.000 (small grant) for unregistered or young organisations (established after 31 August 2021).
  • They anticipate funding 1-3 applications in Mozambique and 1 in Zimbabwe to implement the Hands Off programme in Zimbabwe and Mozambique in 2024.
  • Extension of the grant until mid-2026 is possible depending on the progress made.

What work can be done under this call?

Sex worker-led movement building, service delivery, advocacy and working with key stakeholders Hands Off aims to tackle structural barriers to HIV prevention and services to sex workers, reducing violence against sex workers. Applications may include movement building, organisational capacity strengthening and (peer-based) service delivery activities, such as community-led services, health services, and psychosocial and legal services. Activities to create an enabling environment through advocacy and campaigning and addressing stigma and discrimination are included in this call, as well as partnerships with and training of law enforcement officers. The call does not include activities to rehabilitate sex workers.

Eligibility Criteria

  • This call for proposals from Aidsfonds is for organisations and networks based in Zimbabwe and Mozambique and led by sex workers.
  • In order to be eligible to apply under this grant, your organisation has to meet the following criteria:
  • Your organisation is led by members of the sex worker community.
  • Organisations which are not sex worker-led are (only) considered when:
  • They are hosting community-led organisations
  • They are a network of community-led organisations and serving sex workers
  • Your organisation is a not-for-profit organisation engaged in HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Zimbabwe or Mozambique for at least 6 months
  • Your organisation can operate at community, national and regional level.
  • Ineligible
  • Organisations who are not led by members of the sex workers community. Taking into account the exceptions mentioned under the eligibility criteria.
  • Organisations from outside the Southern African region; they can also not take the role of hosting organisations.
  • Proposals by individuals or by political or government institutions will not be considered.
  • Proposals by private or profitable organisations, companies, institutions will not be considered.
  • Only one application per organisation is accepted for this call. Organisations can be involved in more than one application e.g. as applicant (max 1) and as a host in the application of other organisations (more than 1).