Cops & Rubbers

Open Society Foundations’ Sexual Health and Rights Program (SHARP) commissioned Cops and Rubbersas an advocacy game to accompany their 2012 report Criminalizing Condoms. Players take on the role of sex workers and experience the negative consequence of the condoms as evidence policy including harassment and abuse by law enforcement. Both the report and the game launched at the 19th biannual International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in Summer 2012.

The game is based on research conducted by SHARP partners in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Russia, and USA and includes quotes from actual sex workers in this country who have suffered violations to their public health rights and human rights because of this policy. 

In countries around the world police carry out legal and illegal searches of sex workers and confiscate or destroy condoms found in their possession. In many cases, possession of condoms has been used by prosecutors as evidence of prostitution. Treating condoms as contraband forces sex workers to choose between safeguarding their health and avoiding police harassment or arrest. Cops and Rubbers is an interactive demonstration of these policing practices and highlights the consequences on sex workers’ lives, including their vulnerability to HIV infection.