Here is the first of our reports from the UNAIDS Program Coordinating Board meeting in Geneva, where Rathi Ramanathan is representing APNSW as one of the new NGO representatives for Asia Pacific.
We raised the issue of whether Pepfar restrictions on sex work would be reviewed under the administration.
Goosby: Prostitution clause – in middle of law suit 0 confident that we have internal agreement to minimize impact at global level. Will not require written statement to accept funds. Afraid to try to change language so as not to disrupt law suit. Getting sued is the correct approach. Confident we will be able to have it not impact the way it was intended to impact.
Goosby, the head of Pepfar and head of US delegation at the PC responded was that while language around Pepfar would not be reopened because too many detractors however two US based NGOs are now challenging the restrictions and should they be successful, that could open some opportunity for policy to be revised and he said the Obama administration was more open to the idea of relaxation the prostitution pledge. However, Michelle Moloney-Kitts, assistant coordinator of Pepfar who while insisted that funding around sex workers and access to prevention and other services (food, microcredit, eduaction, condoms availabiility) was still possible under Pepfar but insisted that monies could not be used for legalisation of sex work. When asked after the briefing Goosby’sposition on sex work, he said he was sympathetic but difficult to rally public support for Pepfar to fund legalisationof sex work in view that most americans do not view the legalisation of sex work favourable but he indicated, he would not object to international language drafted around legalisation of sex work . Michellle, part of the remaining Bush camp still holds a lot of weight especially around issues around gender and gender based violence and clearly anti-trafficking at the international fora. The current health attache of the US mission in Geneva is also an abolitionist.
Discussion with Michelle Sidibe and cosponsors
Met up with Steve Krause of UNFPA and he says, there is money for core funding for sex work related activities for 2010 but advised that proposals are sent in by end of Jan. For Asia Pacific proposals be sent to Bangkok office and him. Asked whether advocacy around MDG summit would be accepted, he said he would take a look. Rathi is talking to Vince about a collaborative proposals between Seven sisters and APNSW to build capacity and advocacy around MDG Summit and follow up for Universal Access review in 2011. We understand from Michelle Sidebe that he intends to lobby China, South Africa and another State (yet to be determined) to hold a HIV dialogue to review universal access after 2010 (UNGASS+). So it is important to start strategising around this Summit and securing funding for sex workers networks to attend.
Sidebe is expected to announce a high level task force on prevention which we view as positive especially in view that with of potential cutbacks by donors as a result of the financial crisis. This task force could garner political will to increase funding on prevention, an area the second evaluation has admiteed that UN joint programme has neglected. He also expressed concern around punitive laws as a barrier for key populations to access to HIV services. As a result we didn’t follow up spefcially with him on the idea of a thematic issue of punitive laws affecting key population. Vince of seven sisters who is also on the Bureau raised this issue of thematic on punitive laws but was informed that there is a list of themes already slated. He said he would email list to APNSW. However on a positive note, the PCB NGO delegation have also committed that that in view that stigma and discrimination is an agenda item for the June 2010 PCB, punitive laws which act as barriers to key populations would definitely be raised at the meeting.
Rathi Ramanathan, APNSW and Gulnara Kurmanova, Tais Plus