PATTAYA, Thailand, 15 October 2010 – At the first-ever Asia-Pacific consultation on HIV and sex work, sex workers, government officials and United Nations participants emphasized the need for urgent action to increase focus and positioning of sex work within HIV responses in the region.
Close to 150 delegates from eight countries (China, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Thailand) met in Pattaya, Thailand, to form partnerships and review policies and laws that keep sex workers from accessing HIV services and sexual and reproductive health services.
“Sex work interventions must be central to scaling up the HIV response, and listening to sex workers is crucial,” said Jan Beagle, Deputy-Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) who spoke at the consultation. “Sex workers experience firsthand the effects of laws and harmful enforcement practices that violate their human rights and hamper progress on HIV,” he said.
Removal of criminal law removes the main barrier to sex workers achieving justice. It creates a space that can be filled by effective rights based policy and labour regulations and law.
The Human Rights Reference Group challenges the Commission o go beyond existing statements [about decriminalisation] and to contribute to greater knowledge and action on how to break the impasse in human rights-based law reform, enforcement and access to justice related to HIV. It offers six recommendations of which this is the first.
On Monday August 2, 2010 police in Beijing detained Ye Haiyan, an activist with community based organisation the China Women’s Rights Workshop, after she joined other sex workers in publicly petitioning for the Chinese government to decriminalise prostitution.
The Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) have released a statement in which they explain how they stand in solidarity with Ye Haiyan, human rights defenders, and sex workers who speak up against stigma, discrimination, and the criminalisation of their livelihoods.
A useful outline of sex workers rights including the right to health
Article in HIV AIDS Policy Law Rev. 2011 Oct;15(3):1, 5-14.
This project focuses on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Cambodia that deal, either directly or indirectly, with sex work and sex workers. The NGOs outlined in this study have goals ranging from preventing Cambodian women from entering the commercial sex industry to empowering Cambodian sex workers through the formation of sex worker unions.