Embrace Dignity is a feminist organisation. This means that we strive for the realisation of gender equality by directly challenging patriarchal and cultural gender norms that seek to oppress women and other marginalised bodies and deprive them of living a life of dignity. We do this by championing the rights of prostituted people through our Law Reform Advocacy, Public Education and Exit programmes.
Our programmes are based on the Nordic model of human rights that addresses violence against women and gender equality. This model criminalises those who purchase sexual services and decriminalises those who are exploited for prostitution, but also offers prostituted people support to increase their options and to be able to choose to exit.
At present we empower prostituted women in the Western Cape through our Exit Programme and our Dignity Market. The market allows Sisters opportunities to sell products at our Dignity Centre, markets and events. We will soon sell these products online too. The Sisters we work with are also able to earn an income by offering their services – be it catering at events or facilitation workshops. In addition, we also arrange work placements over a five-week period in order for Sisters to gain work experience.
Sister Circles have been established in some communities in Cape Town, which include Khayelitsha, Delft, Philippi, Bonteheuwel and Gugulethu. These Circles are organised and hosted by Sisters and operate as safe peer learning spaces. Here the Sisters can reflect and articulate their needs and challenges to each other.
We also have supported the establishment of a survivor-led organisation called ARISE (formerly known as Masiphakameni – let us rise in isiXhosa), which focuses on growing leadership. We support the Sisters in leading ARISE and accessing resources through this organisation. We have supported them by also linking them up with other survivors around the world as part of our mission to build a movement of survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking. It is through this movement that their voices are heard, that they can undertake self-advocacy, self-empowerment and offer each other peer support.