This brochure wants to inform students about the activities of Ghapro. (Gezondheidszorg en hulpverlening aan prostituees m/v) (Health care and support for male and female prostitutes)
Ghapro was founded in 2002 and focuses on the specific health risks of prostitutes (sex workers) in the city and the province of Antwerp. In 2011, Ghapro extended its activities to a part of Flemish Brabant. The organization offers support to male as well as female sex workers.
2. Target group
When we talk about prostitution almost everyone immediately thinks about women. Few people realize that there are also male sex workers who are active in the erotic world. Because this male group usually works in a more concealed way, there is less information about them. These men have male as well as female clients. Male sex workers can work through the Internet (as escort), in a bar, behind a window (transvestites).
Because of their job, sex workers are exposed to many risks. Below are a few of the main risks:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as hepatitis B, HIV, syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Alcohol and drug use
- Emotional problems
It is not always possible for a sex worker to use regular health care (such as a family doctor) and other support.
There are the different reasons for this:
- Many sex workers are afraid to talk about their job and as a result they don’t get the necessary medical examinations (they are afraid to ask for an HIV-test)
- Some sex workers have problems with social security (for example, they don’t have a SIS-card) and postpone a visit to the doctor.
- Foreign sex workers don’t always know the range of support offered in the country where they work.
- Sex workers usually have irregular working hours so that it is not easy to visit a doctor or care provider at normal hours.
- Many doctors or care providers are prejudiced against prostitution so that it is difficult for sex workers to talk honestly about their job.
At Ghapro the sex worker doesn’t have to say what his or her job is. It creates an atmosphere of trust and confidence and makes it easier to talk about professional problems. A sex worker doesn’t have to reveal his or her official identity.
3. Team and method
Ghapro offers sex workers medical as well as social support. Sex workers can use the services of Ghapro in two different ways, i.e. through the mobile team or by visiting the medical practice at Ghapro.
This team consists of a multi-disciplinary team of a doctor, a (social) nurse and an outreacher (contact person) and visits the sex workers at their workplace. A workplace is the location where sex workers receive their clients: prostitutes can work behind a window (Schipperskwartier in Antwerp), in a private house, in a bar or as an escort. There are also sex workers who work in cafés where they wait until a client picks them up. These sex workers don’t have a fixed workplace and are difficult to reach by care providers.
A visit by the mobile team at the workplace means that sex workers don’t have to leave their workplace. They can see the doctor at their workplace. It doesn’t take long and afterwards the sex worker can immediately go back to work.
Apart from a visit at the workplace, sex workers can also visit the medical practice at Ghapro: it is in the middle of the Schipperskwartier. The medical practice offered by Ghapro is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
In addition to the medical examinations, sex workers can also discuss other job-related problems with social care providers. Sex workers can ask advice on accommodation, social security and financial matters, but they can also come and talk about relationship problems.
Sex workers don’t have to pay for the services offered by Ghapro, because the organization receives grants from the Flemish community, the province and the city of Antwerp.
4. Importance of Ghapro
It is important that sex workers are regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This is to prevent the transmission of an infection from a sex worker to a client or vice versa, because clients can also infect sex workers! If a sex worker is regularly tested, he or she can be treated in time and the infection can be stopped. Ghapro wants to make sure that sex workers can carry out their activities in a healthy way.