Between their stories and our realities: Safara - The Journey

Between Their Stories and Our Realities -- Chapter 4


Chapter 4: Safari -- The Journey

In Zanzibar, a woman working as a prostitute is found unconscious on the street. She is picked up and brought to a hospital where she is diagnosed as having AIDS. Her pimp takes her back to her village, since he committed himself to bringing her back alive.

As the girl is handed over to her family, the pimp negotiates a price for a new girl to replace her.

During the return trip, the other prostitutes think about the life of their friend, about their own futures, the discrimination they face every day, and their violated rights.

Approximate duration: 15 minutes.

How is the story of the video Safari -- The Journey related to the Women's Convention?

Safari is primarily related to Article 6 of the Convention which deals with prostitution and trafficking in women. Other relevant articles include Article 12 on the right to health and Article 9 on the right to a nationality.

A. Raising Awareness and Sensitivity

Possible Activities:

Sharing Emotions

Participants can sit in a circle. The coordinator can present some phrases to start discussion about emotions that were felt while watching the video. Ideas:

  • The image of the prostitute unconscious on the street.
  • The trip in the minibus.
  • The prostitutes accompanying their friend to her village.
  • The scene where the men are exchanging money.
  • The little girl in the minibus.
  • The light at the end of the tunnel, at the end of the video.

A volunteer can write some of the groups= reactions on a large sheet of paper. The group can think about other issues as well, like ">What experience does a prostitute live? How do you feel about it?"

Wearing a Mask

This activity asks participants to put themselves in the place of another. Individually or in groups of two, participants can make MASKS that symbolize the images they have about women in situations of prostitution, remembering images in the video and images in their own communities.

The coordinator can pass out cardboard, paper, paint, glue, and scissors. It would be interesting to add adornment or clothing to accompany the masks, like necklaces, scarves, dresses, shoes, purses, etc. Have participants make masks, at least on for every two people.

When the masks have been made, the group can be divided into two teams:

One team will put the masks on their faces, and walk around the room trying to act like prostitutes -- or like they think prostitutes act. At the same time, the other half of the group without masks will walk around and react like they believe people do when they face prostitutes.

Next, roles will be exchanged: those who acted like prostitutes will take off their masks, while the other half will put them on.

To conclude, participants can think about what they felt. How did it feel to be discriminated against by the rest of the group? What kind of stereotypes or prejudices do we hold against prostitutes?

In the video, what differences existed between women who were prostituting themselves and the women living in the village?

B. Analysis and Comprehension

Possible Activities:


We cannot keep talking about prostitutes or prostitution while referring to only one part of the problem. We must incorporate and visualize the others who are supporting this situation. We are referring to the demand for prostitutes, the clients.

On a large piece of paper, participants can list causes of prostitution (ex: poverty, cultural norms, etc.). Then the same can be done for consequences of prostitution (ex: exploitation, violence, etc.).

Participants can think about their own communities. Are there specific causes and consequences of local prostitution?

NOTE: The coordinator can propose other ideas to think about: How do the causes and consequences affect each person or institution involved in prostitution?

  • Clients: men who demand and pay for sex.
  • Pimp: person who lives and benefits from the prostitution of other people.
  • Women practicing prostitution.
  • Families, communities, societies.

Women's Trafficking

Poverty and unemployment increase chances of women's trafficking. Along with established forms of sexual exploitation, new forms are arising: sexual tourism, contracting domestic workers from poorer countries to work in "developed" countries, marriages arranged between women from "developing" countries and foreigners. These practices violate women's rights and dignity, and put women in risky situations of violence and ill-treatment. See Article 6 of the Women's Convention and Recommendation No. 19.

The coordinator can begin a discussion of possible forms of trafficking in women. Questions for discussion can include:

  • What happens in your community in terms of women's trafficking?
  • What are some of the jobs that migrant women hold?

Then the following question can be posed:

Why in our societies is there not trafficking in young men so that women

of all ages and social classes may use them sexually?

The question is absurd and is meant to provoke participants, to start a discussion about some of the SUPPOSITIONS that lie behind prostitution and trafficking in women. A PRICE is put on a woman's body, she is EXPLOITED sexually, DECISIONS about women's bodies are made by others. The group may want to discuss and debate about the POWER relationships between women and men.

Sexual Stereotypes

Most of the powers that men hold in political, religious, social and economic areas they also hold sexually. Men desire; women, generally, are considered the objects of men's desires.

The coordinator can make a set of cards with the following statements and popular myths (and/or others):

  • Men have a strong and unstoppable desire for sex.
  • There are good women and bad women. The first are wives and mothers, and the second want to prostitute themselves.
  • Prostitution involves only perverts. Decent people and the fathers in our families are not involved.
  • Women of ... are the sexiest and the best lovers. (The group can fill in the blank.)

Also, blank cards can be provided so that participants can write some of the popular sexual conceptions that are passed on within their community or culture.

The group can be divided into teams of 4 or 5 people. Each team can choose one card, or make up one. Then the team can find some way to express, with a sketch or drawing, the content of the card.

Then teams can invent a new myth or idea that contradicts the popular myth they chose. They can also prepare a sketch based on the new idea. Each team can then present its new idea.

Health and AIDS

The coordinator can read the following notice that circulated on the Internet on January 5, 1999:

After reading the text, the group can compare discrimination that the ill woman in the video and Gugu Dlamini suffered. How does AIDS affect the participants' communities?

The coordinator can write on a large sheet of paper Article 12, part 1 of the Women's Convention, and Recommendation 15, parts a, b, c, and d, so they can be read by all the participants.

Think about these articles. What are the violations of the rights of the ill woman in the video and Gugu?

Nationality and Marriage

When a woman marries a man from a different nationality, in some countries she automatically loses her own nationality and takes on the nationality of her husband, or lives without one. Without her own citizenship rights, a woman may become completely dependent on her partner.

Read Article 9 of the Women's Convention.

The coordinator can explain the problem of the foreign prostitute in the video (the one wearing pants), taking into account the following details:

She is a foreign woman who moved to Zanzibar when she got married to a Tanzanian man. In doing so she lost her nationality, but did not receive Tanzanian citizenship, while her children received it. After some years of marriage, her husband abandoned her and the children. Without citizenship, she could not find work legally. She did not have access to a family network, and she could not go back to her own country because she lost her nationality when she got married. She began to prostitute herself so she and her family could survive.

The group can sit down in a circle and take a few minutes to put themselves in her shoes. How must she feel? What kind of fears, feelings, must she have? What kind of life and opportunities can she hope for? How would you feel if you were in her place? What discriminations must she face every day?

To conclude, feelings can be shared and the group can discuss the importance of NATIONALITY. The coordinator can raise the following question: Would this character be able to find other opportunities besides prostitution? Which ones?

C. Strategies for Change

Possible Activities:

Our Children, Our Future, Our Promises

Remember the scene of the video where the little girl asks the driver about the sick woman's destiny, when the camera, looking through the little girl's eyes, shows a street, a dark tunnel, and a light ...

The coordinator can write on a poster the following text:

On another poster, the following question can be raised: What changes should we bring about so that our children will not enter into prostitution?

Then divide the group into two or three teams. Each team, after thinking about both texts, can establish a set of promises to their children. Example: If information and education is valued, the group could agree on this promise: "We will inform ourselves so we can inform and talk to our children about everything related to the experience of healthy sexuality."

In a group, all promises can be read and written on a poster headed by the following question: What changes should be initiated so that our children won't enter into prostitution?

Once all promises are listed, they can be copied and given to each participant, or displayed in a public place.

Revising Our Legislation

Legislative reforms that punish people who benefit from prostitution are necessary. Women's groups are asking that the police stop detaining and harassing women practicing prostitution, and that authorities bring to court pimps, clients, and other culprits that are exploiting women working in the sex industry.

The coordinator can prepare a series of photocopies including municipal laws, moral codes of conduct, penal codes and other legislation that deals with prostitution.

Then the group can do some research in its community, region or country about laws against prostitution.

Divide the group into different teams. Each team can take on a different level of legislation: municipal, state, national.

Read all applicable laws and analyze them. The following questions may facilitate the process:

  • Who is protected with these laws?
  • What are the effects of these laws?
  • Who is involved? Who is invisible?
  • Are these laws attacking prostitution or women engaged in prostitution?

Read Article 6 of the Women's Convention and General Recommendation No. 19 , Violence Against Women, especially points 11 through 18.

Using what has been read and discussed, think about:

  • What changes or legal reforms are necessary?
  • What other alternatives or services may help to solve the problem?
  • Are there public policies in your communities or region that deal with prostitution? What are they?

It would be possible to organize the information and present it as a letter or a shadow report to the government, or participants can think about some project to reform the law.

D. Evaluation

Evaluating, One Line at a Time.

Participants can sit in a circle. At the top of a sheet of paper, the coordinator can write the following phrase:

In this workshop ...

One person can write a response on the bottom line of the sheet of paper, then fold the paper in order to hide her or his response, and pass it to the next participant. This can continue until everyone has written a response. To conclude, the coordinator can unfold the paper and read all the participants' comments.


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