APNSW has been part of the first International Social Action Film Festival to be organised in Asia, by the group Sinema in Singapore.
On Saturday we attended a film showing and a panel discussion where Elaine from Zi Teng in Hong Kong spoke, and we then met with people who are setting up a sex workers’ project in Singapore. Selvi, from the APNSW board spoke with them in depth about the issues and plans to network with them in the future from KL.
On Monday we showed 2 APNSW films and one film from WNU in Cambodia on the Tenofovir trial. Another film called Pecah Lobang (English= Busted), which was made with PT Foundation in Malaysia about the issues for TG sex workers under Syariah law was also shown. Afterwards Dale, Selvi and I took part in a panel discussion along with Leona Lo, a TG activist and artist from Singapore. http://leonalo.wordpress.com
There was a lot of interest in the films on the situation in Cambodia, and discussions of how and if similar issues applied in Singapore. Singapore has a weird ‘legal’ system of sex work regulation where foreign workers can get permits to work in licensed brothels if they get the correct visa and submit to mandatory testing. This helps back up the assertion that their are “no Singaporeans” working as sex workers- but it just means local sex workers have to work outside the system; and it means migrant sex workers who can’t get a permit and a “yellow card” have to work outside the system as well. Human rights and migrant rights organisations in Singapore are finally starting to take these issues up and are, thankfully, working from the premise that sex work and trafficking are two very different things. We’ll be trying to network with them in the future.
Sinema did a great job of organising this first festival, including the difficult task of getting us our foreign speakers permits from the police who obviously tow the government line that sex work is not an issue for Singaporeans. We plan to work with them to show a selection of films on sex work issues from across Asia and the Pacific on December 17 to mark International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers; as well as working to get a bigger selection of films and art work to show here for next years Social Action Film Festival.