Lady Mermaid’s Empowerment Centre’s mission is to create a strong voice for sex workers, to shed light on the harassment and abuse faced by sex workers, and to educate and empower sex workers.
The vision is to alter and improve the conditions that allow discrimination and abuse of sex workers and violations of sex workers’ rights.
Ensuring access to health and ending abuse and violation of rights
Lady Mermaid advocates for universal access to health services, speaks out about violence against sex workers, opposes human rights abuses, and challenges stigma and discrimination against sex workers.
Lady Mermaid targets sex workers with information on safe sex, condom use, and the advantage of regular testing for HIV and STIs.
It trains sex workers to be peer educators who can pass on the information to others in their circles.
Challenging the legal framework – and public opinion
Lobbying and advocating for the repeal of discriminatory laws such as the Anti-Pornography Act and the HIV Prevention and Control Act are high on the agenda for Lady Mermaid.
Through a combination of public demonstration, court actions and petitions they seek to influence public opinion as well as the opinion of those in power to make legislative changes.
Also, radio and TV stations have been used as advocacy channels. Lady Mermaid creates awareness in the public through community engagement and workshops, campaigns, drama, radio and TV talk shows.
Empowering sex workers – and women
Since 2015, Lady Mermaid has distributed more than 1,000 information-loaded SIM cards to their members with HIV safety information, text as well as audio, which the members can access on their own phones.
Besides information on HIV/AIDS, the SIM cards also include information on what to say if the women are approached by police officers.
Lady Mermaid is also involved in various research and documentation about sex workers with the aim of informing and influencing health policy makers and implementers.
Lady Mermaid is a member of several national, regional and global networks, including Uganda Network for Sex Workers Organisations, and Global Network of Sex Work Projects.
Lady Mermaid uses these networks to amplify the voice of sex workers globally and advocate for the rights of sex workers.
In Uganda Lady Mermaid collaborates on an ad-hoc basis with the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) which is the Danish AIDS Foundation’s other Ugandan programme partner.