Hands Off!

Hands Off! is being implemented in five countries in southern Africa: Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique. This programme focuses on reducing violence against sex workers in that region.

The Dutch embassy in Maputo, Mozambique is providing financial support and Aidsfonds is leading the alliance of sex-worker organisations. COC was invited to join the alliance because of its unique experience in developing training curricula on LGBTI people, sex workers and drug users.

Between 2012 and 2015, COC facilitated a development process in South Africa that led to a nationally endorsed training curriculum for in-service healthcare providers. That curriculum aims to strengthen a proper and professional provision of services for LGBTI people, sex workers and people who use drugs.

Subsequent research has shown that the manual and training set-up that COC and its partners developed did in fact provide relevant and effective ways to change the perceptions, skills and attitudes of healthcare workers with an increase in the quality and accessibility of healthcare for these groups as a major achievement. COC’s LGBTI partner organisations in the region are currently engaging their respective governments to adopt and adapt a similar model at the national level.

Based on this successful healthcare-worker project, COC’s role in the Hands Off! programme focuses on facilitating a similar process of developing a nationally accredited curriculum for law enforcement agencies. In 2017, the South African Police Service (SAPS) endorsed the first national training manual on so-called key populations for law enforcement agencies in Africa.

COC and its partners are engaging with national law enforcement agencies and national Aids councils in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana to support a similar adaptation process in those countries.