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Our work is not only underpinned by the Sister’s lived experiences, but also by research that focuses on   prostitution and human trafficking. This research shows us that in situations where gender inequality and extreme poverty exist, it is false to assume that people involved in prostitution are exercising free choice and agency.

Below are a range of resources that may be of interest to you.


In 2003, an international study on prostitution was conducted by *Melissa Farley, along with other researchers in South Africa.

The study found

  • high levels of homelessness (73%)
  • physical and sexual violence (69%)
  • sexual/physical abuse during childhood (56–66%) among local respondents participating in the study
  • with 89% expressing a desire to exit, yet citing no other option for economic survival.

These findings were corroborated in Farley’s 2010 poll conducted on the streets of Cape Town with over 100 prostituted women. Farley’s research was a key motivation in the establishment of the former Masiphakameni, which means let us rise in isiXhosa and was renamed ARISE in 2015.

Read about the study’s findings here:

* Farley et al. 2003. ‘Prostitution & Trafficking in 9 Countries: Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder’, J. Trauma Practice, 2.


In 2011, the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Knowledge Co-Op facilitated collaborative research between Embrace Dignity and the UCT Psychology Department. The student research projects considered prostitution and exit strategies for prostituted women, with a special emphasis on the South African context. The research drew on the experiences of prostituted women to deepen our understanding of the links between poverty, violence and gender as drivers of prostitution and explored the complexities of exit strategies in South Africa. Read about the research outcomes here. :


You can learn from our partner organisations both locally and internationally:


Embrace Dignity offers internship and volunteer opportunities to local and international individuals who wish to learn more about our work with prostituted women and girls. While we cannot offer paid internships, we can provide you with the opportunity to learn more about how to conduct advocacy work which includes:

  • how to involve and gain input from trafficked and prostituted persons in reform processes,
  • how to campaign for law reform which protects prostituted or trafficked women, and
  • how to use public education campaigns to change negative attitudes towards prostituted and/or trafficked women and girls. 

Some of the skills we need within our organisation include assistance with research projects, social audits and surveys, copywriting, public relations, photography and fundraising.

Because we work directly with survivors, Embrace Dignity provides interns who are expected to complete a service learning module as part of their studies with the perfect opportunity to contribute to empowering others, to understand what happens at grassroots level and at the same time complete an important component of their studies.

You can contact info@embracedignity.org.za to volunteer or to do an internship at our offices based in Woodstock in Cape Town, South Africa. 


We encourage and welcome individual donations. If you would like to support our work to empower women in South Africa, you can donate by clicking on the appropriate link below.

If you are donating from outside South Africa, click here. If you are donating from within South Africa, click here.

You can also visit our Dignity Market based at our offices in Woodstock in Cape Town, South Africa and purchase some of the items produced by our Sisters. These items include  leather paper trays and pen holders for offices, key chains, leather bracelets, and  beaded jewellery.

In 2016 we housed a photographic exhibition, which told the stories of prostituted and trafficked women through photographs and their personal written testimonies, at our office. Photographs from this exhibition can be purchased by the public.

You can contact info@embracedignity.org.za to view all these products.











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 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 have also 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.
































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