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APNSW attends 12th Sex Worker Academy Africa

APNSW’s Project Officer recently attended the 12th Sex Worker Academy Africa, held 6-12 November, 2016, in Kenya, Nairobi. This was the first African Sex Worker Academy attended by an APNSW representative, who was tasked with observing how the Academy is organised and structured, and how the content of the Sex Worker Academy could be tailored to fit the Asia and Pacific context.

The Sex Worker Academy Africa is an initiative of APNSW’s sister regional network, the African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA). The logistics relating to the Academy, including facilitating the 7-day program are undertaken by the Kenyan Sex Worker Alliance (KESWA). The Academy is held quarterly (every 3 months) in Nairobi, Kenya, and involves 12 representatives from 2 different African nations, in addition to a permanent space for 6 representatives from geographically disparate areas of Kenya.

Prior to each academy, KESWA and ASWA put out a call for participants. There is a rigorous selection process for potential applicants, who must provide evidence of how they are involved in the sex worker movement in their localities, in addition to outlining strategies they will use to share the knowledge and experiences from the Academy with their respective communities. A total of 18 sex worker leaders of various gender identities and expression are selected for each Academy (six from Kenya and 12 from two other African nations). The 12th Academy included participants from Mozambique, Ghana, and Kenya.

In addition to all participants identifying as sex workers, the Academy is completely facilitated and organised by sex workers. As reflected in ongoing evaluation of the Academy, the initiative provides a real-life example of active sex worker mobilisation and empowerment, which has been highly inspirational to all graduates. The Academy serves as an example of how organised and mobilised sex worker communities can operate autonomously to achieve program outcomes with a high impact, using a minimum of resources.

The Academy was founded in 2014, following African sex work leaders undertaking a bilateral exchange program with Indian sex worker collectives, VAMP and Ashodaya. With technical support from VAMP, Ashodaya, and NSWP, the African Academy’s curriculum was developed and faculty members (i.e. facilitators) recruited and trained for the first Academy implemented in May 2014.

The Academy uses an interactive and participatory methodology, and utilises both theoretical and practical approaches to learning. This includes: dedicated discussion times (e.g. “Open Zones”, a concept which dedicates time to discussion, sharing of experiences, debating ideas, and critical analysis of theories and practices); field trips to best practice sex worker run/led spaces; group and individual presentations; films/ videos; games; art and dance advocacy; and classroom-based theoretical approaches.

The Academy aims to:

  • strengthen networks and relationships between African sex worker networks;
  • provide a space in which participants can learn from each other and share their experiences of community mobilisation, including the systemic barriers they face locally, and strategies to overcome these challenges;
  • enable participants to understand approaches to sex work, including developing strategies to strengthen the rights of sex workers in their countries;
  • develop skills in shaping advocacy strategies within each country, including processes for challenging and changing oppressive laws and by-laws;
  • enable participants to understand components of HIV prevention in relation to human rights, community empowerment and violence reduction programs;
  • strengthen the role of sex workers in rights based HIV programs;
  • and to provide a Pan-African capacity development platform for sex worker leaders to ensure sustainability of the sex worker movement.

Throughout the 7-day Academy, participants are familiarised with the key theoretical foundations underpinning the African sex worker movement. This includes: exploration of legislative environments in which sex work occurs; strategies for undertaking advocacy (including non-traditional forms of advocacy, such as art and dance advocacy) ; best practice community health care programs targeting sex workers; community responses to violence; human rights; developing outreach plans and recruiting peers; condom and lube programming; understanding policies and positions; and the impacts of criminalisation on sex worker communities and our ability to mobilise.

Key outcomes of the Academy include country teams developing an arts-based advocacy project, including a banner, illustrating the specific issues faced by sex workers nationally, and a theatrical performance which complements the banner and articulates the issues facing sex workers. Similarly, sex worker representatives of each country collaborate to create a national advocacy strategy, with the aim of implementing the strategy in each respective country over the following year.

The Academy’s finale event involves country groups showcasing their art advocacy and theatrical performances, followed by a graduation ceremony and community party. At the completion of the 12th Academy, all the participants expressed their gratitude to ASWA and KESWA for facilitating the Academy, and shared heart-felt experiences of solidarity, relationship building, self-empowerment, and enthusiasm for continuing the struggle for sex worker rights.

An extensive trip report will be developed and distributed to APNSW members via email in the near future.           

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APNSW members from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Vietnam took part in a five-day workshop held from 5 – 10th September 2015, in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The workshop is part of series designed specifically for sex workers, to build the technical knowledge and ability of APNSW members to engage and work with the Global Fund mechanisms in their countries.

The workshop was developed by APNSW with technical support from NSWP, Global Fund and additional support from Robert Carr Network Fund. Lead facilitators were Michael Matthews, Communities Delegation to the Global Fund, and Kay Thi Win, Regional Coordinator for APSNW. Additional facilitators included Aldo from OPSI (Indonesia), and several staff members from Global Fund.

APNSW members who participated included WNU (Cambodia), Empower (Thailand), PAMT (Malaysia), VNSW (Vietnam), Friends Frangipani (PNG).

For full details of the workshop, see the following pdf document:

APNSW and NSWP Global Fund Training, Sep 2015

legal_wkshop_group_PIC1Participants from five APNSW member countries took part in a Legal Literacy Training workshop in Bangkok from 27-29th August, 2015.

The objective was to ensure sex worker representatives understood:

  • the rights of sex workers and the importance of legal literacy to advance these rights
  • how the laws currently affect sex workers in their country
  • good practices in legal literacy activities in other countries
  • how to document and respond to violations of human rights
  • how to prepare for legal services projects in their countries.

APNSW Members from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam took part, and shared summaries of the legal and human rights situation facing sex workers in their countries, as well as what legal service projects were available

For a detailed summary of the workshop, download the following pdf documents:

APNSW Legal Literacy Training – workshop summary Part One

APNSW Legal Literacy Training – workshop summary Part Two

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Please vote Yes to the policy on decriminalization of sex work.
Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) is a sex worker led regional network that promotes the health and human rights of female, male and transgender sex workers. APNSW represents 31 organizations in 23 countries.
Sex work has a long history in the Asia Pacific region, pre-dating colonial occupations and laws, and thriving as a significant, if hidden, contributor to the economy.
However, sex workers face many obstacles to realizing their human rights, including violence at the hands of police and clients. We encounter stigma in our families and neighborhoods, and discrimination in access to justice and healthcare – including for sexual and reproductive health and HIV treatment.
Sex worker led organizations and networks, public health bodies, and the human rights community are increasingly aware of the imbalance of power that criminalization of sex work causes, including its impact on effective response to HIV. People working to end HIV/AIDS have long realized that condoms are not enough; we must address stigma and discrimination against marginalized and criminalized communities to end this epidemic.
APNSW welcomes the well-researched and evidence-based Amnesty International proposal that joins the chorus of calls to decriminalize sex work in order to give sex workers more control over their working situations. Decriminalization will help to normalize relations with police, and help realize sex workers’ rights to be free from violence and protected by the law.
APNSW rejects the ideology of “abolition” as it denies the ability of those who make adult choices to engage in consensual sex work to think for themselves. We are saddened by the wealthy, high profile celebrities who know nothing of the reality of our experiences, yet in their ignorance feel they are being “charitable” by endorsing laws and policies that cause us harm.
The evidence is clear. The criminalization of sex work contributes to violence against sex workers by police and clients and others; it prevents sex workers from being protected by the law; and it feeds the culture of stigma and discrimination that negatively impacts all our human rights, from health to housing and more.
Amnesty International is to be congratulated for the quality of the draft policy it has prepared, which in itself is another milestone in the journey of realizing the human rights of sex workers.
A rejection of this policy would effectively be a vote for the status quo in the lives of sex workers. A status quo of impunity for those who commit crimes against us, continued exclusion from labor and legal protections, continued harmful efforts to ‘rescue’ us against our wishes, and continued stigma and discrimination in so many areas of our lives.
This year’s International Council Meeting is an opportunity for Amnesty International to demonstrate human rights are indeed for everyone. Please ensure logic prevails over lobbying. Read the evidence. Listen to those who are directly affected by these unjust laws.
Amnesty International’s highly respected global voice WILL make a difference in realizing our human rights. So please make that a positive difference.
Our health, our safety, our lives and our livelihoods WILL be affected by your vote.
So, please, vote Yes to the policy on decriminalization of sex work.
Best Regards,
Kay Thi Win, Coordinator
Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers

Support Amnesty International’s proposed policy calling for the decriminalisation of sex work

Support Amnesty International’s proposed policy calling for the decriminalisation of sex work

NSWP and our allies take this opportunity to express our support for Amnesty International’s draft policy calling for the decriminalisation of sex work, which is to be tabled for adoption at the International Council Meeting, 6-11th August 2015. Amnesty International is facing a backlash from campaigners for proposing a policy that seeks to uphold the human rights of sex workers.

We ask the Amnesty International Council to stand firm and support decriminalisation of sex work and protect the human rights of sex workers.

The draft policy is backed up by the findings of country-based research carried out by Amnesty International on the human rights impact of the criminalisation of sex work and also on the 2014 consultation, which included input from many sex workers around the world – the community most affected by the proposals.

NSWP would also like to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the CATW statement, open letter and online petition attacking Amnesty International’s proposals. CATW’s position is stigmatising, discriminatory and misrepresents the facts, conflating sex work with human trafficking. Most importantly it ignores the lived experiences of sex workers, silences their voices and seeks to perpetuate legal systems which place sex workers at increased risk of violence, stigmatisation, and discrimination; as well as limiting their access to health and social services. Furthermore, CATW is ignoring the overwhelming body of evidence and the findings of international bodies such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, who recommend that governments should work towards the decriminalisation of sex work and The Lancet which recently published a special series on HIV and Sex Workers, which also recommends the decriminalisation of sex work and reported “Decriminalisation of sex work would have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings, averting 33–46% of HIV infections in the next decade.”

There is a wide recognition among international agencies that the decriminalisation of sex work is necessary to protect and respect the human rights of sex workers. These agencies include; UNAIDS , UNFPA, UNDP, WHO, The World Bank , Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW) , Human Rights Watch , the Lancet, Open Society Foundations .

The Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) has issued a Statement of Support for Amnesty International setting out some of the extensive evidence that backs up Amnesty International’s call for the decriminalisation of sex work and calls on human rights defenders to stand with sex workers in supporting this progressive policy.

Please sign this petition to show support for the Amnesty International resolution to support decriminalisation of sex work and ensure the human rights of sex workers are upheld.

Please sign the online petition and share it widely.

支持國際特赦組織的聲明信

Déclaration de Soutien pour Amnesty International

Declaración de Apoyo para la Amnistía Internacional

Заявление в поддержку Amnesty International

The statement of support will be availbale in Chinese soon.

Read more : NSWP Issues Statement of Support for Amnesty International and Launches Online Petition

Administration Membership

Communications and Policy Officer

Legal Consultant

All applicants must complete the application form in English, making reference to the Term of Reference, including the person specification.  The application should also identify in their experience of working with sex workers and working remotely, their plan for coordinating their work with the APNSW Secretariat and member organization.

This information will be considered and scored in the selection process. For more information to apply, attach with Terms of Reference.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS:  Thursday 17 May 2015 @ 24:00 (GMT). ALL INTERVIEWS WILL BE BY SKYPE OR TELECONFERENCE.

Contact Email: secretariat AT   apnsw.info

The Asia Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS (IGM) kicks-off on Wednesday (28 January 2015).  On the 27th January, there will be a Community Services Organisations (CSO) forum held at UNCC with an expected attendance of approximately 120 people from the community sector who will develop a Community Statement that will address critical issues.  There will be a contingent of sex workers in attendance from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia and Fiji.  Unzip the Lips will co-convene a side-event, with the inclusion of an APNSW representative, that will be supported by UNDP and UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team on Gender and HIV/AIDS (IATT).

We will continue to advocate for a gender-sensitive HIV response for key affected women and girls, of which sex workers form a sizeable proportion.

Abstract:   Rights of women and girls living with HIV, female sex workers, women who use drugs, transgender people, mobile and migrant women, girls and young women are women’s rights and human rights!

Many countries in the region are experiencing concentrated epidemics, and the available evidence shows that despite the fact that more men than women are infected with HIV, key HIV affected women and girls continue to bear the socio-economic brunt of the disease. They often face multiple and overlapping forms of stigma and discrimination, gender-based violence and other human rights violations that compound their experience of ill-health, injustice, social marginalization and inequality. The high levels of stigma and discrimination they face, including at institutional settings, directly impact fulfillment of their sexual and reproductive health and rights and their access to HIV and sexual and reproductive health services. Unequal power relations and gender inequality also contribute to HIV transmission. The overwhelming majority of women in the region get infected with the disease from their long term intimate partners.

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