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On the third anniversary of the passing of APNSW’s co-founder and long time sex worker activist, Andrew Hunter, APNSW formally announces the forthcoming publication of the 1st edition of the APNSW Sex Worker Diary.

The Sex Worker Diary is dedicated to sex worker leaders, such as Andrew, who have tirelessly fought for the recognition of human, health, and work rights for sex workers across the Asia and Pacific region

The diary, which is in the last stages of layout, highlights and celebrates days of significance to the regional sex worker movement in which sex workers have used our many skills to challenge the laws, policies, and institutions which oppress us.

APNSW recognises and extends our utmost respect to sex workers for the strong, vibrant, and diverse communities and cultures of resistance sex workers have created across the Asia and Pacific, which continually inspire us in the work we undertake.

We hope that the forthcoming year will be marked by organised and mobilised sex worker communities strategically challenging systemic structures at the local, national, regional, and international level.

Upon completion of the diary, a PDF version will be uploaded to the APNSW website, and a limited number of hard copies will be printed.

photo of Andrew against a white background holding a sign 'communities delegation'

In memory of Andrew Hunter, co-founder of APNSW

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The most exciting thing about the Sex Worker Freedom Festival is that happened at all. How thrilling it was to have sex workers from over 41 countries, and all over India to come to the parallel IAC conference we held in Kolkata to discuss issues that are important to sex workers everywhere. The week-long conference was organised by NSWP, APNSW & DMSC and was attended by over 550 sex workers.

The festival focussed on the seven freedoms that we are all entitled to:

  • Freedom of movement and to migrate;
  • Freedom to access quality health services;
  • Freedom to work and choose occupation;
  • Freedom to associate and unionise;
  • Freedom to be protected by the law;
  • Freedom from abuse and violence; and
  • Freedom from stigma and discrimination.

We held workshops and heard news and views and analysis from sex workers in attendance from all around the world. APNSW held Information and Communications Technology (ICT) workshops that explored the various platforms of online communication, with a particular focus on social networking. In partnership with the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), APNSW held workshops for HIV+ sex workers, who got to explore the realms of a potential HIV+ revolution! We held our red umbrella march to coincide with the march in Washington, the ‘Sex Workers can end AIDS Rally’, and it was enthusiastically attended by locals and visitors alike. There was a red carpet night with performances, booze, awards in recognition for significant achievements in sex worker activism. The SWFF saw the launch of APNSW+ & NSWP+, an advocacy platform that aims to make the voices of HIV+ sex workers heard loud and clear!

We feel privileged to have been welcomed so warmly by our local partners, the sex workers of DMSC and treated like family by all of our Indian partners, especially the crews at VAMP and Ashodaya.

NSWP have just issued the inaugural issue of Sex Worker Digest which provides a detailed summary of the topics covered in the official programme and maps out the media coverage that the festival attracted.

 It is ironical that the AIDS conference’s slogan is “Turning the Tide Together” when two of the key populations most affected by HIV, sex workers and those with a history of drug use, are denied entry to the US and cannot therefore be present – we are an essential part of the solution.”

Ruth Morgan Thomas, Global Co-ordinator NSWP.

Obama, when he became the president, he said “I am the president of everyone” — that should include gay people and sex workers. He said ‘Yes We Can’ for change! But there’s no change yet, so he has failed the whole world of discriminating against sex workers and not removing that prostitution pledge.”

John Mathenge, Co-ordinator, Kenyan Sex Worker’s Alliance (KESWA), Kenya.

HIV is our garbo (pride). If it had not come we would not be here. We would have just been lying in the dark getting beaten up. Today we are organised.”

Swapna Gayen  Program Director, DMSC, India.

SW digest Issue 01 Oct 2012

 

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The Sex Worker Freedom Festival: the alternative International AIDS Conference 2012 event for sex workers and allies.

Click on photo for view “Sex Worker Freedom Festival” video

US government travel restrictions for sex workers mean that many of us will not be able, or will not want to go to the IAC in Washington this year. The Sex Worker Freedom Festival is an alternative event for sex workers and our allies to protest our exclusion and ensure the voices of those excluded are heard in Washington.

The festival programme will focus on freedoms that we are all entitled to:

  • Freedom of movement and to migrate;
  • Freedom to access quality health services;
  • Freedom to work and choose occupation;
  • Freedom to associate and unionise;
  • Freedom to be protected by the law;
  • Freedom from abuse and violence; and
  • Freedom from stigma and discrimination.

Click on photo for view “Welcome to the Sex Workers’ Freedom Festival” video

Bharati Dey from DMSC sends a welcome to sex workers all over the world…
The Sex Workers’ Freedom Festival. “See you in Kolkata”

http://youtu.be/U2Rhk-t0LJ4

http://youtu.be/JhP14W5zT78

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It’s 4 years ago this week that Carol Jenkins, one of the strongest supporters of sex workers rights and HIV programs in this region died. Carol was a close friend to many in the APNSW extended family. Her research skills are sorely missed, but more than this we miss the way her house in Bangkok was a place that brought so many different people together- from members of community organizations up to the heads of major international aid agencies. Now we only get to see most of those people in formal meetings, which is a shame. The debates and discussions over Carol’s dinner table led to some amazing collaborations and many honest discussions. The loss of this informal space, which we called “Salon Jenkins” where we met people as equals has, we believe been a huge loss to the HIV response in this region. We miss you Mildred!

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At its 25th Board Meeting in Ghana, 20-22 November, the Global Fund Board decided to cancel Round 11, its funding opportunity for countries to put forward ambitious proposals for scale-up of HIV/AIDS, TB and/or malaria programs, National Strategies and health systems strengthening. The reason for this is lack of money and unwillingness by the donors to invest more in AIDS, TB and malaria through the Global Fund. The immediate consequence is that countries will only be able to apply for funding for continuation of essential prevention, treatment and/or care programs currently financed by the Global Fund that will otherwise face disruption between January 2012 and 31 March 2014. Funding for new programs and scale-up would only come available again as of 2014. This happens at a time when the Global Fund Board also approved a new Strategy 2012-2016 with ambitious targets – that could fundamentally change the course of the epidemics.

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Last month APNSW members decided to paint a mural to represent the problems sex workers have with GFATM programmes but also to give ideas for how they can be fixed so that GFATM money is used responsibly and ethically on programmes addressing sex work and HIV.

Left side of the banner is the way programmes run now.
The sex worker (organisation) is a puppet. It shows her collecting all the paper work for GF programmes as her main activity. she is also treated as a target and carries an STI Test book, which records the results of the compulsory STI and HIV tests funded by the Global Fund.

Further to the left, is the Evil Elf, which represents the INGOs and UN organizations who are involved in all of this programming but just end up stealing sex workers power and (mis)appropriating the money for sex worker HIV Programmes

Behind the Elf is a road delivering GF money, but bags of it are falling off to all the wrong places.
There is an intersection with a sign post, but the remaining money goes to token pecs and compulsory testing and no money gets to the projects run by sex workers.

On right hand side is how things can be if sex workers are allowed to run our own programmes rather than being passive recipients and targets.

If GF will,allow us to,cut the puppet strings then the puppet turns into a multi armed angel,winged goddess who can deliver Value For Money- something we as sex workers know about and deliver to our clients daily!

So if,community is empowered and directly funded we can deliver for the people.
Small amounts of money used to nurture the grass roots lead,to huge outcomes growing.
If we work on principles based on the right to health then we can work,together instead of having to fight with all,the agencies and organizations who should be working with us.


In about 10 different languages a few key messages are written by sex workers from those countries.

Sex work is work
My body is mine, not the governments
My body is my business
No compulsory testing
Sex workers have human rights.

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We are appalled at the failure of the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific, the Local Organising Committee and the UN in predicting, preventing and effectively intervening in the violence that took place on the 27th of August 2011. We note that the UN has yet to make any public statement about the police violence on the first day of ICAAP.

While there have been apologies and assurances regarding the safety and security of South Korean participants of ICAAP, reports continue to circulate of potential civil and criminal action including charges for alleged damages to the Bexco and PCO. In the case of at least one person, the criminal case seems to still be pending and there is no assurance by the police to this person that the case will be dropped. The fact that meetings with the Busan police and Bexco security were held without us, despite the commitment to do so has made us question the commitment and sincerity of the Conference organizers in responding to the police violence.

Given these actions, we cannot help but view the assurances given so far as a stalling tactic and that Korean activists may face harassment and police action once international delegates have left ICAAP.

We have here five demands for the organisers to address the grievous consequences of their failure to predict, prevent and intervene effectively in the violence.

  1. Assurance that the security, the police, Bexco and ICAAP organisers will be made to destroy all the photos and footage including CCTV footage and identifying personal information like social security numbers and addresses that they have collected and a direction to them to maintain confidentiality under all circumstances.

  2. A direction shall be given to the police to cease and desist from all threats of civil and criminal actions against individual activists and using the said threat as an excuse, knowingly or unknowingly, to disclose the marginalized status of individuals.

  3. In the absence of any anti-discrimination law, an assurance that none of the participants of ICAAP will be discriminated against or harassed by the police or Bexco or any other authority.

  4. An independent investigation such as by the National Human Rights Commission into the persons within Bexco security and the police who are responsible for the incidents of violence and human rights violations and under what authority or whose directions the actions were taken.

  5. Ensure the safety and personal security of all participants of ICAAP during and after ICAAP.

We call on Myung-Hwan Cho, Chair ICAAP10 LOC, Zahid Hussein, President of ASAP and representatives of the UN and Global Fund to come forward right now, in this room and assure us that they will pursue these five specific demands with all their energy and provide their personal guarantees of the personal safety and security of our South Korean friends and colleagues.

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