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.
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.
On International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers the PLRI are circulating a media release to launch their new website and stress the need for evidence based policy making to tackle violence and abuse.
This article, in Exchange on HIV/AIDS, Sexuality and Gender, focuses on the relationship between HIV and sex workers’ rights. It outlines the elements of a rights-based approach to sex work and includes information on how the criminalisation of sex work and stigma and discrimination increase vulnerability. It suggests that the key elements of a rights based approach are that it:
One group that participated actively in the march and which is represented in conference sessions as well as at the conference’s Global Village is sex workers. During Sunday night’s opening session a group gathered under the red umbrellas that symbolize the sex workers’ movement shouted “sex workers’ rights are human rights” and demanded “decriminalize sex work, now.” Over the past few days commercial sex workers have spoken about their experiences advocating for greater attention to human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS within Global Village meetings.
On the 26-27 June 2011 the Global Commission on HIV and the Law will hold a consultation on the Latin America region. The Commission is working to improve HIV responses by addressing key legal barriers and promoting enabling legal environments.
You can read more about the commission on their website.
An article in Feminist Review, No 48, Autumn 1994. The article is comprised of a conversation between Cheryl Overs and Nell Druce. It provides a fascinating insight into thinking on the links between sex work, feminism, HIV, same sex desire, the ethics of research and the role of the state in the abuse and protection of rights.