SWAN NEWS, Issue 27, 2010 SWAN newsletter is the voice of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Ex- IN FOCUS the Sex Workers Rights Advo- cacy Network, a network of civil cluded from Proposed Macedonian Antidis- society organizations engaged crimination Draft Bill in advocating the Human Rights of the sex workers in Central and Eastern Europe and Central In January 2010 the government Asia. Currently SWAN consists of 17 member-countries of the of Macedonia proposed a new region. draft of the long-awaited anti- If you wish to learn more about discrimination law. Though previ- SWAN activities, please visit ous drafts included "sexual direc- WWW.SWANNET.ORG. tion" as ground protected against dis- In this issue: crimination, it has been eliminated In Focus: from the present draft. Boris O. Dit- trich, the advocacy director in the pro- •Sexual Orientation and Gender Iden- gram for lesbian, gay, bisexual and tity Excluded from Proposed Mace- donian Antidiscrimination Draft Bill transgender people of Human Rights tion on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Watch wrote a letter to the Prime Min- to which Macedonia acceded in 1993 •South Africa: Push to Protect Sex Workers During World Cup ister of Macedonia. has also affirmed in its General Com- •International Sex Workers Day, 3rd International law and stan- ments that the Convention's prohibi- March dards prohibit discrimination on the tions on discrimination (art.2) are •Sex Worker Rights Music Video basis of sexual orientation. Protecting taken to include "sexual orientation." •Paris Manifestation for the Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Human Rights Watch disagrees Sex Workers people against discrimination is there- with the approach. Express mention of fore part of Macedonia's duty-bound the grounds of discrimination is an Sex Workers’ Report •SWAN News interview with Victoriya obligations. The International Cove- essential measure toward eliminating about the situation of migrant sex nant on Civil and Political Rights unequal treatment. HRW thus urges workers in Kazakhstan. (ICCPR) to which Macedonia acceded the Prime Minister to change the draft News from SWAN Network in 1994, affirms the equality of all law and make the anti-discrimination •SWAN Member Organizations Use people in articles 2 and 26. framework law compatible with inter- December 17 for Campaign Pur- Likewise, the United Nations national human rights standards. poses Committee on the Rights of the Child, •Ukraine is Continuing to Kill Sex the international body of experts that For the full text, go to: http:// Workers monitors compliance with the Conven- www.hrw.org/node/88224 •You Must Know About Me – Macedo- nian Sex Workers’ Campaign Video •National Mapping of Commercial Sex South Africa: Push to Protect Sex Workers Workers in Albania •Tais Plus and HOPS to Participate at During World Cup Liverpool Harm Reduction Confer- ence A steering committee has been set to decriminalize their trade. up with a mandate to push for re- "I have seen my colleagues Sex Workers’ Advocacy School forms with the police commissioner harassed by the police and I have •The Curious Sex Workers’ Guide to and legislature before the world soc- also experienced that," said Anna the “Anti-Prostitution Pledge” cer showcase in June 2010. Sex Sibisi, a sex worker for the past eight Quote of the Month workers and activist organizations years in Cape Town. "I would like to say the World Cup is an opportunity see this end before the World Cup." Announcements Subscribe to electronic SWAN Newsletter and visit SWAN website at WWW.SWANNET.ORG Page 2 IN FOCUS (continued): Well aware of the resistance to changing the criminalized. South Africa expects at least 450,000 law, sex workers are pushing for at least a morato- visitors during the World Cup, and according to Ban- rium on arrests during the soccer event. "We should net-sexual activity will increase. The prospect is be given temporary licenses to operate during the chilling for a country that has the world's highest World Cup as they map the long term plans," Sibisi HIV and AIDS rate. UNAIDS says South Africa ac- said. counts for 17 percent of global infections. In South Africa, sex workers face a jail term if Bannet referred to the New Zealand experi- charged for at least three times. "The police have to ence after laws were changed in 2003. Studies con- stop harassing sex workers, doing so will increase ducted by the government five years later showed their vulnerability, that is why we will engage with positive changes, which Bannet said were due to police authorities before the World Cup," said Di- 'improved working conditions and sex workers being anne Massawe of the Sex Worker Education and Ad- able to negotiate safer sex and report abuse to po- vocacy Taskforce (SWEAT). lice.' But the suggestion of decriminalization has SWEAT is a non governmental or- again sparked furious public debate in ganization that advocates for the rights of South Africa, a reflection of how sex work sex workers. The Cape Town based organi- is still highly stigmatized in African coun- zation has also been on the forefront of tries. calling for the decriminalization of sex in The process of changing the law South Africa. "We have realized that people began some seven years ago when the still enter into sex work, therefore we say it South African Law Reform Commission is better to educate (them) and have their was tasked with reviewing the Sexual Of- rights protected - it's a matter of human fences Act. However, the process has rights," added Massawe. dragged and the initial bill is expected for South Africa's HIV and AIDS and STI Strategic parliamentary debate in March next year and final Plan (2007-2011) recommended that sex work be legislation in 2011. "The delay has not been encour- decriminalized. For Health researcher Marlise Richter aging and this has had profound effects on sex work with the South African National AIDS Council operations in this country," said Massawe. "We an- (SANAC), the merits of such a move are many; chief ticipate a day when our leaders will realise that this among them reproductive health for sex workers. phenomenon will remain part of our society." She said: "If it is legal the sex worker will dictate the "We are talking to FIFA on all these issues of terms knowing that the law is on her side, she or he public health and I think it will also be an opportu- can negotiate with a client for safe sex which is nity to introduce the human rights aspect-that is of rarely happening now." sex workers," concluded Zanele Mthembu of SANAC Health activist Tim Bannet says HIV transmis- Sports and Entertainment Sector. sion will be significantly reduced if sex work is de- AllAfrica.com International Sex Workers Day, 3rd March Calcutta: over The 3rd of March is International 500 sex worke red light areas rs gathered from Sex Worker Rights Day. The day’s to stage a cand different occasion of th le light proces history goes back to 2001 when over e 'Internationa sion on the The Durbar M l Sex Workers ahila Samanw Rights Day'. 25,000 SWs gathered in India for a organized this aya, a forum o rally to highlig f sex workers SW festival. The organizers, Durbar of sex workers ht the socio-eco . Children of th nomic plight Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a street plays an e sex workers d other progra presented Calcutta based group that has over Swapna Gyne, ms. a sex worker sa 50,000 sex worker members and observe this d id: "we were no ay. We challeng t allowed to members of their communities. Sex will be observ ed the govern ing the day by ment that we worker groups across the world have March 3. Hence any which way we celebrate th . The day was subsequently celebrated 3 March as till the time se is day and take x workers exis oath that International Sex Workers’ Rights she added. t, we will obse rve this day," Day. Subscribe to electronic SWAN Newsletter and visit SWAN website at WWW.SWANNET.ORG Page 3 IN FOCUS (continued): - Outreach Pro local Sex Workers oint- Chicago: the of demands p devised a list prostitution. ject (SWOP) inalization of ing to the dec rim ecriminaliza- tical ob jectives are d cial rec- SWOP’s poli tion, securing so tion of adult prostitu profession an d x wo rk as a valid ognition of se workers right to self- establishing sex ands include n. Th e March 3 dem d a stop to determinatio deportations, an an en d to raids and forced reeducating of and then d for the trapping OP also calle anner SWs and cu stomers. SW er the b n of SWs und Halifax: Step ending the repressio outreach and ping Stone, an organization th of anti-traff icking. Halifax Region supportive prog rams to sex w at provides (Nov a Scotia, Canad orkers in the AL celebrated ment urging la Sacramento: SWOP-NORC w enforcemen a) issued a st ate- . Issues included the current ar t and the cour March 3 with a lobbying day rest and releas e procedures ts to review nities, the tar- sex workers’ he criminalization of out commu Canadian Crim alth and safety that impede within the regi rs, migrants and geting of transgender worke lease anyone inal Code give s police the po on. The of police protection arrested for so wer to re- sex workers of color, lack prevent them licitation on co se, and targeting from accessin nditions that and recourse in cases of abu fax region. Se g entire sectio ns of the Hali- sing the real is- x workers and sex workers in lieu of addres conditions as being placed their allies refe r to these on boundaries sues of trafficking. Rene Ross with Stepping Ston . urgent issue was e says “These On March 3 a specific and releases prev ent sex worke conditional P-NORCAL seeks rs from access brought fourth for which HO services such ing essential as transition se rous hardships housing.” Not rvices, health support. Among the nume only does this care and ies, it is surprising cessing some keep sex worke which effect the communit services, “it fu rther isolates rs from ac- istence on condoms them to work that the organizations’ ins in unsafe area and forces stances.” s and under ris d as evidence in kier circum- for protection is actually use and District Attor- prostitution cases by police h sex workers use neys in California. Althoug dom use is inhib- condoms, it is clear that con Sex Worker use of condoms ited when the mention or Rights Music m. can be employed against the Video Paris Manifestation for the Rights of On December Sex Workers the 3rd the San Francisco Sex Partially inspired by March the 3rd, but held 3 weeks later, Worker Film the conference took place in le Sénat in Paris and it included and Arts Festival premiered the “sex worker an- a full day of panel discussions on topics of sex work and the Internet, the criminalization of clients and the debate around them”, Courtney Trouble's "The Burnout," a mu- re-establishing a brothel system in France. Participants in- sic video by Scarlot Harlot and Courtney Trou- cluded female, male and transgender sex worker activists, ble. In the video, a 'day in Courtney's life' paral- ally activists, politicians and others from across France and lels her journey from phone sex to sexual repre- also representatives from Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden and sentation/pornography as well as her political the Netherlands. journey, interwoven with sex worker demonstra- The always fabulous traditional Pute Pride street manifesta- tions, clips and photos from organizations listed tion took place after the conference. Proudly taking over the here. street, the crowd wended its way through the streets of Paris in beautiful vibrant glory with banners, red umbrellas and To view the clip, click: http://blip.tv/ chanted slogans. file/717209 Subscribe to electronic SWAN Newsletter and visit SWAN website at WWW.SWANNET.ORG Page 4 Nothing about us without us is a message repeated more often then ever before by sex workers around the world. This column in the SWAN News provides an opportunity for sex workers to ex- press their opinions, tell us about their lives, problems and dreams. Contributions are welcome: write to email@example.com SEX WORKERS REPORT SWAN News interview with Victoriya about the situation of migrant sex workers in Kazakhstan. What is the situation for girls from Uzbekistan or If most women keep most of their profits, why other countries in Kazakhstan ? are there some migrant women working in really horrible conditions ? Recently, the migrant girls have the most problems. Let’s say their documents are OK. But the police take The situation is that women are coming to work in Ka- them to the police station and say they have to check zakhstan, because they have no money or education. their documents and then take the documents and lock So they choose this job. Or, the girls come from the the girls up. In a recent case in villages maybe for another job, but July in Taldykorgan, the police then they see there is no job mar- held the girls for six days, while ket, so they do sex work. The prob- they “checked” their documents. lems come for the girls with fake For six days, the girls were raped, documents. beaten. They gave them nothing to eat. They were treated horribly If they come with fake documents, while they were imprisoned. At the the pimps are really not nice to very end, they give their docu- them because they control the ments back and said “Your docu- situation 100 per cent. If a migrant ments are fine, you can go.” woman works alone, the police What did the girls do? come along and she is deported. If they work with the pimps, the police comes, the pimps They came to the drop-in center and they lived there pay the police and they let her stay in the country with for 3 days in the center. The psychologist spoke with her fake documents. The independents can also have them and we had doctors treat them for free. Not just a problems with bad clients, who beat or humiliate them. gynecological check-up, we also had a surgeon come because they were beaten so heavily, not just raped. So, the girls work with pimps because of this. Many Did they report the case to other authorities? pimps are women, but these pimps, very often treat the They didn’t go to the court or the police, because there women badly. They can force them to work, tell the is no point. The case will be closed, it is of no use. They women they can not reject clients. The girls from Uz- did not want to live through the humiliation again and bekistan say that to come to Kazakhstan is very profit- see no one cared about what happened. able for them. In one month they earn what they would in six months in Uzbekistan, so the risk is worth it to What has happened to these women? them. They went to work in a sauna owned by a police man. How do women get out of bad conditions? Since the owner is a police man, they are relieved, be- cause they are protected from the police now. They are Here is one example. There are some local girls, who happy now, he is a good owner. The girl gets 70 % and came from the village to the capital to go do sex work. the policeman gets 30%. They looked for a pimp to work for, they found pimps, everything was ok, he gave them money. But then one Is this an average arrangement? day, they decided to run away and work independently. Most sex workers split their profits 50-50. There are That was when their problems started, because they also some migrant girls without documents, who are didn’t manage to run away. The pimps caught them totally controlled in slavery-like situations, who work and stabbed them. When they recovered, in punish- only for food. This is a very small percentage, though. ment, he forced them to work for no money at all. It is now more and more popular for sex workers to work independently. Subscribe to electronic SWAN Newsletter and visit SWAN website at WWW.SWANNET.ORG Page 5 SEX WORKERS REPORT (continued) So the girls went to the police on their own. They man- What happens to the girls when they are caught aged OK with the police and the police intervened, not by police working with fake documents? to help the girls but because the pimps were dealing There was a raid recently and 7 girls were deported but drugs. The police took the pimps to jail - but not for one girl was allowed to stay. She said “One police man what they did to the girls, for the drugs. They do not liked me a lot. Now, I have to have sex with him every care about the girls, but the drugs… Well, it was the Saturday, so I can stay in the country.” drugs that saved the girls. If they are officially deported, they are kept in the po- So the girls were free and they went to work for an- lice station for 3 days and then deported. It becomes other sauna and they are now doing well, working in an official government deportation and so, they are conditions that are ok. In saunas, it is safer, because it generally not humiliated. When a girl is deported, the is your space and there are admin staff who run the government pays for a bus. We don’t know what hap- place. They offer some security because they don’t pens on the other side of the border when they get want the girls to be beaten by bad clients, it is bad for there. In 3 months they can come back again and they their business too. do. Many women, manage to come back before the 3 Pimps are an issue. But there are other important ones months are up, by paying the police to pass through for migrant sex workers, like access to treatment for the border. health issues and trying to obtain legal documents. SWAN Member Organizations Use December 17 for Campaign Purposes Sex workers’ organizations across Central and Eastern Europe and Central NEWS FROM Asia used the opportunity of the International Day to End Violence Against SWAN Sex Workers to advocate SW’s rights. Below is a summary of the activities car- NETWORK ried out be the organizations. HOPS and STAR, Macedonia: KOVCHEG, Kazakhstan: roundtable workshops, screenings discussion, media workshop, outreach session The Program for support of sex workers at HOPS organized a Hu- A roundtable discussion with the representatives of man Rights week throughout 10-17 December with various daily local authorities, ngo-s and the media was held. The activities. On 10 December an educational workshop was held event allowed an opportunity to raise the topic of dis- where a film was screened on human rights and there was a brief crimination of sex workers and IV drug users, as well presentation about the importance of the day. On the 14th a work- shop “Legislation and SR and the benefits of legali- as people living with HIV. zation” was be held, and on the 15th the film “You The issues covered included the must know about me” was screened and a a psycho- legalization of prostitution in Ka- social workshop was held on violence and the emo- zakhstan, together with the au- tions associated with it. thorities’ view on it. Also, the pros and cons of the necessity of puni- On the 16th there was a poster workshop about tive measures to prevent violence December 17th and human rights, and on the 17th against sex workers were the film “You must know about me” was screened listed, and that penalties again, and a presentation was held about the importance of the day. After a small party organ- should be consistent with the ized by the Sexual Workers red umbrellas were protection of human rights and handed out. During the entire event, the Mani- to prosecute those responsible festo of the Sex Workers and brochures with a for non-compliance. short story for 17 December were distributed. There was also a media work- STAR (sex workers' rights activist group) of Ma- shop with journalists, who re- cedonia designed and launched a calendar for vealed problems faced by me- 2010, to mark December 17th and sex workers’ dia professionals when cover- rights. The calendar may be downloaded from ing the sex industry. The next here http://swannet.org/files/swannet/File/ step was the outreach session, Documents/STAR_kalendar_small_2010.pdf where outreach workers handed out red umbrellas of in pdf format, and quality print versions may be requested from the paper carrying the sign "Fight for your rights!" STAR team (write to SWAN coordinator to firstname.lastname@example.org). Subscribe to electronic SWAN Newsletter and visit SWAN website at WWW.SWANNET.ORG Page 6 NEWS FROM SWAN NETWORK (continued) Siberian Initiative, The organization Russia: awareness dispatched the press release and campaign materials prepared by SWAN among the organizations working with sex workers in Russia. In case there was time available, cop- ies of the Macedonian documentary "You should know about me" were played to SWs, followed by a discussion. Juventas, Montenegro: media campaign, workshop On December the 17th over 180 organizations in Montenegro, the media and UN agen- cies were informed about this date and it's meaning. There was feedback from only Monten one organization deal- egro 20 09 ing with rights of women. A“mini workshop” was Ukraine 20 09 held with sex workers explaining them their rights – like that they can report violence to the police without conse- quences – which was accepted very well. Also, a ques- Legalife, Ukraine: tionnaire on violence against sex workers working on media campaign, the street and in brothels was prepared. flashmob, street activism Aksion Plus, Albania: media campaign On December the 17th, Legalife held a press con- ference on countering violence against sex work- Several articles were published ers. After the press conference the organization BF on SW-related issues, including "Drop in Centre" held a flashmob in the central the life of transgender sex square, on the main street and near the Kiev mayor's office with red umbrellas, each bearing the workers. sign "Equal rights!" and "No to violence!". The ac- Aksion Plus was invited to tion was attended by 10 SWs from different regions make a speech on the Second Albania 2009 and organizations of Ukraine. After the rally leaflets Debate for Human Rights in Al- and photos were distributed to bypassers. bania sponsored by the Dutch Embassy. Aksion Plus at- For more on how Ukrainian SWs combat discrimi- tended one of the panels on Homophobia and Discrimination nation and violence against them, go to: of Sexual Minorities where they presented the current situa- • http://swannet.org/ru/node/1714 tion. Tais Plus, Kyrgyzstan: art exhibition, informal meeting, role playing Several months before December, an exhibition titled "Little Red Riding Hood" fairy tale to demonstrate how "Crafty hands" was announced in the community. All stigmata and discrimination were applied by society, how works had been collected by December the 17th. All part- sex workers’ rights were violated the by clients and law ner organizations as well as sex workers were invited. enforcement officials, and how sex workers feared to as- In the beginning of the party the video from Macedonia sert their rights. was screened, so that the community knew that the De- LGBT community members shared personal experiences, cember 17 was not only celebrated in Kyrgyzstan but also later guests and employees were invited to enact small in other countries. Rights violation and violence against sex work-related scenes. Some sex workers also told sex workers is prevalent in many countries. their stories and how they handled difficult situations. In Guests were entertained with poems and a scene from the evening the rally continued in the street. Subscribe to electronic SWAN Newsletter and visit SWAN website at WWW.SWANNET.ORG Page 7 NEWS FROM SWAN NETWORK (continued) In the period between 14-22 December Odyseus Slovakia: several seminars were held to reduce stig- HESED, public campaign, screenings mata of SWs in six towns in Bulgaria. The Bulgaria: aim of the seminars was to highlight the seminars, work of NGOs on the local level, and to campaign place emphasis on the problems faced by sex workers, including the effect of dis- activism crimination and stigmatization of SWs on the spread of HIV and other STDs in Bul- Bulgaria 2009 garia. Representatives from municipalities, police and foster homes attended the seminars, as well as young people and doctors. Slovakia 2009 The Sofia seminar on December the 17th The organization’s 17th December cam- focused on the violence which sex work- paign included the distribution of post- ers face every day. The documentary cards, copies of the declaration of human “You must know about me” was screened rights of sex workers, and red umbrellas. and all guests were involved in a discus- The Christmas Meeting of indoor and out- sion about what could be done for sex door sex workers connected with a movie workers in Sofia. A representative from presentation on the human rights of sex the municipality said that she would like workers (Eurosex, video from Brussels to help HESED in finding a place for a low- conference, HOPS video) and with threshold center for sex a nice chat, Christmas cookies e, workers. All guests re- self-support and having fun. ceived a red umbrella. JAZAS, Serbia: media cam- paign, workshops, roundtable discussions I Can Live Coalition: informal campaign meeting for SWs and supporters On December 17th, there was a public announcement on the prominent na- ia 2009 On December 17, 2009 a SWAN mem- tional TV station B92 about the history Lithuan ber in Lithuania, the I Can Live and meaning of this date. Coalition organized an afternoon AZAS’ team held two workshops in which sex party for sex workers in coopera- workers participated in the creation of the poster and tion with medical counseling and postcard for the December 17th action. On Decem- drop-in centre for sex workers ber 17th and 18th, JAZAS held a peer education „Demetra“. seminar. 12 sex workers participated in workshops The event took place on Demetra’s facilitated by peer educator Marianne Jonker from premises. The women had an op- SOAIDS Netherlands. The themes of the workshops portunity to gather and meet SW’s ranged from safe sex, police violence to peer educa- rights supporters in an informal tion principles and the meaning of December 17th. environment, have a cup of tea or The JAZAS team conducted outreach activities during coffee, and share their daily wor- which they distributed key chains with messages ries and problems. They com- printed on them (Sex work is work! Stop violence, plained about violence they are support our rights!). subjected to by partners, clients On December 18th, JAZAS held a press con- and pimps. They expressed their ference/round table discussion “Prostitution in Ser- fear to file appeals to police as well as doubts that law enforcement bia: Is there an adequate answer?” The conference could be on their side. was attended by stakeholders, the non-governmental I Can Live Coalition’s executive sector and the media. The round table discussion / director Jurgita Poskeviciute intro- press conference provided several different view- duced the women to the concept points on sex work and opened discussion on the Serbia 2009 and origins of the December 17 different terms and concepts related to sex work like trafficking, legali- campaign, presented good practices zation, decriminalization and other models of sex work regulation. This and foreign experiences in commemo- was the first ‘meeting’ of this sort in Belgrade, in which different stake- rating this day. A quiz on HIV prevention holders were brought together to start a dialogue and shed light on this was also organized during the event. “taboo” subject. Subscribe to electronic SWAN Newsletter and visit SWAN website at WWW.SWANNET.ORG Page 8 NEWS FROM SWAN NETWORK (continued) For the third consecutive year, Ukraine is Continuing You Must Know About Me – on December the 17th sex to Kill Sex Workers Macedonian workers called for society to Sex Workers’ Campaign respect the human dignity of Video persons involved in commercial sex, to combat discrimination “You Must Know About Me” is a first- and violence against one of the hand account of sex workers’ experi- most marginalized groups of ences and aspirations off and on the our society. streets prepared by HOPS, SWAN's member organization in Macedonia. "Half a year ago, a sex worker While dealing with the harassment and died a violent death in Kiro- violence from clients, pimps, and the vograd. Recently two male es- police, sex workers strive to counter the corts who provided sexual ser- hostile public attitude by speaking out vices were killed in Sevastopol, and fighting for basic rights. The video and there are cases of girls dis- calls for zero tolerance of violence appearing. This year we re- against sex workers, adequate investi- corded dozens of human rights gation and prosecution of perpetrators, abuse cases against sex- and coordinated response of social insti- workers, occurring in almost tutions to the actual needs of sex work- half of Ukraine's regions” - says ers. Irina Mishina, the chair of the In a large part of the video, sex workers give detailed account of a police raid Ukrainian league Legalife. where they were all taken in police cus- tody and subjected to inhumane, degrading According to recent estimates, about 63 to 93 thousand and humiliating treatment overnight. Next women are involved in commercial sex in Ukraine. Virtually all day, it turned out that they were detained for of them are working illegally, and regularly become the victim the criminal act of spreading infectious dis- of violence, both by customers and law enforcers. eases. In groups of five the women were taken to a clinic for AIDS-screening, despite “It is just awful, when your rights are violated by those who the fact that they are regularly screened for are supposed to protect them. Who do we call for assistance STD-s. The sex workers were exposed to the then? It seems that sex workers are not regarded as human media with their health status revealed. beings in general. Of course, they are forced to break the law, but that is for administrative reasons, and should not The production of the film was made possible subject them into coercion to have free sex, being beaten or by WITNESS, who provided training, consul- having their money taken. No one is allowed to use violence tation and editing assistance. WITNESS against anyone else" - said Natalia Isaeva, leader of the sex (www.witness.org) is a human rights organi- workers group initiative in Kirovograd. zation that uses video to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. WITNESS “Distrust of police and forced rush into agreements with cus- empowers people to transform personal sto- tomers reduce the ability of sex workers to eliminate poten- ries of abuse into powerful tools for justice, tially violent clients or those who are under the effect of alco- promoting public engagement and policy change. hol or drugs. Moreover, law enforcement officials recently Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch? began to consider the presence of condoms as a further v=aXhyzUya9BE proof of prostitution. It makes sex workers discard condoms, www.hops.org.mk leading to an increased risk of contracting various infections, http://hub.witness.org/en/node/17245 including HIV / AIDS” - stated Helen Zuckerman, head of the public center for sex workers in Kiev. The marginalized situation of sex workers and the increasing violence against them had a negative effect on the HIV epi- demic and other infection levels of other STDs. Subscribe to electronic SWAN Newsletter and visit SWAN website at WWW.SWANNET.ORG Page 9 NEWS FROM SWAN NETWORK (continued) Albanian SWAN-member Aksion National Mapping of Tais Plus and HOPS to Participate Plus have prepared the first na- Commercial Sex at Liverpool Harm Reduction tional map on the sex work- scene in Albania. The findings Workers in Albania Conference are alarming. On 25th-29th April 2010, the 21st International Harm Reduction Significantly higher rates of HIV and STI infections have been Conference is taking place where documented among sex workers and their clients as compared it was first established in Liver- to most other population groups within a country. However, pool, England. the true extent of HIV transmission from sex workers and their clients to other populations remains generally unknown. Here is an update about sex Many factors significantly contribute to raise sex workers' HIV worker and allies involvement, so and STI infection vulnerability, such as: stigmatization and far, in the conference. A major marginalization, limited access to social, health and legal ser- session on sex work has been accepted, this is supported vices, sexual exploitation and trafficking, exposure to violence by the International Sex Work Harm Reduction Caucus. and substance abuse. The caucus is an informal network bringing together sex worker organizations and representatives and was Sex workers in Albania live under the daily threat of violence formed in order to promote the inclusion of sex workers (both verbal and physical), discrimination, constant fear of in debates about harm reduction and human rights par- police actions, and lack of substantive support services. These ticularly within this international forum. problems are significant factors underlying the continued pres- ence of this population on the streets. Furthermore, these The session entitled “The War Against Sex Workers” dangers, in turn are compounded by stigma, isolation and currently includes presentations from ALCIS in the De- hidden activity associated with their work. mocratic Republic of Congo, Tais Plus based in Kyr- gyzstan, Scarlett Alliance (Australia) reflecting on sex Sex work is an illegal activity in Albania and article 114/a worker peer to peer capacity development in Fiji & He “foresees aggravating circumstances whereby the exploitation Jin Kim presenting on transgender issues. of prostitution is sentenced from 7 to 15 years imprisonment”. It is obvious that the current law enforcement is problematic In addition a concurrent session supported by UKNSWP because instead of reducing the sex work activity and risks entitled “Sex Work & Harm Reduction in the UK: Safety, associated with it, it drives sex work and sex workers further Skills & the Struggle for Social Inclusion” has been ac- underground and detain them from seeking and receiving cepted. Beside the sex work-related sessions, a couple socio-health support and also keep them detached from the of other organizations have been accepted to present in mainstream society. In addition, police rarely responds to the other, non sex work-specific sessions as well, like Pye complaints of sex workers, even in cases of harsh violence Jakobsen (Rose Alliance, Sweden) and Marija Tosheva towards them. (HOPS, Macedonia). For more information, go to: For more information about the conference go to: http://www.aksionplus.net/reports.html http://www.ihra.net/Liverpool/Home SEX WORKERS’ ADVOCACY SCHOOL The Curious Sex Workers’ Guide to the “Anti-Prostitution Pledge” 1. What is the “Anti-Prostitution Pledge”? 2. Were sex workers the only group targeted? No! We are in good company: others targeted were all women need- The ‘Anti-Prostitution Pledge’ is the name given to an ing to get abortions, drug-users and LGBT people! In 2003, the American policy put into place in under George Bush. United States government said that money could not go to groups or Since 2003, any groups receiving money for anti- clinics who also offer information or services related to abortion or trafficking or HIV programs have to have a policy needle-exchange for drug-users. During this time, American funding opposing prostitution. This affects groups all around for research into the risks of men who have sex with men and trans- the world who receive money from the American gov- gender women also came under attack. ernment and work with sex workers – even if they The Bush administration also required that 1/3 of all HIV-prevention are receiving US money for something other than money go to promoting sexual ‘abstinence’ (no sex) and ‘being faith- their work with sex workers. ful’ (only sex with your husband or wife in heterosexual marriage) without ever mentioning condoms (this is sometimes called A+B). In In 2003, the US government also created what they 2006, for example, out of all the money spent on HIV-prevention by called PEPFAR, a 15 billion dollar fund to help fight related to sex in different countries, 56% went to A+B programs and AIDS internationally. Groups receiving PEPFAR money only 44% went to programs that talked about A+B but also men- are among those who must sign the pledge. tioned using condoms (sometimes called ABC) or that just promoted condoms. Subscribe to electronic SWAN Newsletter and visit SWAN website at WWW.SWANNET.ORG Page 10 SEX WORKERS’ ADVOCACY SCHOOL (Continued) 4. Does this really affect me? 3. Has the anti-prostitution pledge affected sex work- The most directly affected are sex worker projects or ers? groups who got or get funding from the US government Yes ! It has affected sex workers all over the world, and in par- but it also affects groups that would like to get funding ticular, it has affected sex workers’ access to life-saving health but can’t anymore. information, services and spaces to improve their working and All sex workers should be concerned though, out of living conditions. solidarity for those affected but also because the US Some big NGOs who didn’t want to lose their funding from the government has tried to influence foreign governments US signed the pledge closed down their sex worker projects or and UN bodies with its anti-sex work position. According drop-ins or stopped supporting sex workers. In Cambodia, a to the Associated Press, in 2006 the US blocked a World medical clinic by Doctors Without Bor- Health Organization resolution for uni- ders (MSF) was closed down. In Bang- versal access to HIV/AIDS treatment ladesh, drop-ins for sex workers were because it opposed the mentioning of closed down. In 2005, the US govern- needle-exchange, sex workers, drug ment cut half the funding for PSI, an users and gay men. Then, in 2007, the international NGO because of outrage United States pushed the UN to issue a by American politicians over their peer “Guidance Note on Sex Work and HIV” outreach project to sex workers in that was very conservative and fo- Costa Rica. cused more on stopping sex work, In East-Asia, some NGOs and clinics than stopping HIV. signed the pledge and interpreted it to mean that they could not offer health information to male or trans sex work- ers who came to their service. 6. What can I do to protest the Some groups in Asia and Southern Anti-Prostitution Pledge? Africa signed the pledge saying they “opposed prostitution” but You can sign this petition on-line and encourage all continued their work with sex workers and kept on receiving those you know to sign it as well: United States funding. One of these groups has expressed that http://www.petitiononline.com/HHS1209/petition.html they are scared that if they publicly defended sex workers’ rights, they could lose all their money. Some groups refused to sign the pledge. VAMP, a sex workers’ 7. Where can I learn more and follow what hap- group in India refused to and so had to turn back their funding. pens ? Most famously, the government of Brazil refused to sign the To watch a short video by sex workers about the impact pledge and lost 40 million dollars from the U.S. Pedro Chequer, of the anti-prostitution pledge, go to: responsible for HIV programs in Brazil said: • http://blip.tv/file/181155 “We view prostitutes as partners in the effort [to fight HIV], To read a letter opposing the anti-prostitution pledge partners who are efficient and competent. Prostitution exists written by Human Rights Watch and signed by more everywhere in the world, including the United States, and we than 200 organizations, go to: have a commitment to work with this group and respect them.” (To see read more about their action, go here: http:// • http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2005/05/17/us- www.ipsnews.net/new_nota.asp?idnews=28848) restrictive-policies-undermine-anti-aids-efforts In 2006, at the World Aids Conference in Toronto, 200 sex workers from around the world demonstrated against the anti- For more detailed information, see: prostitution pledge. • http://www.genderhealth.org/loyaltyoath.php • http://www.pepfarwatch.org/index.php? option=com_content&task=view&id=23&Itemid=37 5. Has anything changed since 2003? • http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/ Three large NGOs sued the US government to make them stop journal.pmed.0040207 requiring the anti-prostitution pledge. These are the Alliance for • http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/09/10/ Open Society International, Pathfinder, and DKT International. In perpetuating-prostitution-pledge-allegiance-failure May 2006, a judge decided that the anti-prostitution pledge no longer applied to American groups but- the Updates to the situation are court decided it still applied to international groups and posted here: projects, even those run by American groups. • www.genderhealth.org When President Obama was elected in 2008, he made and on the fabulous website of some changes to PEPFAR. He removed the abstinence sex worker activist Carol Leigh: and faithfulness requirement, but still directed that • www.bayswan.org these needed to be prioritized over comprehensive prevention (that includes condom-use). He removed Also see Anti-Prostitution Pledge the restriction on organizations who give information Timeline here: or services related to abortion…but he kept the anti- • http://swannet.org/node/1693 prostitution pledge ! Boo ! Subscribe to electronic SWAN Newsletter and visit SWAN website at WWW.SWANNET.ORG Page 11 QUOTE “We had nowhere to sleep. There were two wooden benches. We sat on the floor, it was wet, people would urinate as we were sitting there, like cattle. I didn’t have any OF THE air to breathe. When I asked for a doctor, they said there is nothing wrong with you. MONTH When I remember that image, I get very upset. Terribly.” —- Nevrie, Macedonia on being detained by the police Publications State Regulations and Policies to Second Issue of the Newslet- Control Sex Work Cause Human ter of the Sex Workers’ Asso- Rights Violations in Austria ciation in Hungary is out The Sex Workers' Forum of Vienna has submit- Issue 1 of 2010 features a long inter- ted a shadow report to the UN Committee view with Swedish SW Pye Jacobson, Against Torture which is reviewing Austria's who tells the readers about the legal regulation of sex work in Sweden and compliance with international agreements on its consequences on SWs and their preventing torture this April. Sex work in Aus- clients. There is an article about the tria is legal if sex workers are registered with current phase of the AIDS epidemic authorities and undergo mandatory medical and the means of protection. This is exams. followed by a country profile of Albania, with an insight into the local commercial Sex Workers' sex scene. There is an article on the hazards of gambling Forum reports as a type of addiction and its adverse social conse- that sex work- quences. Readers are acquainted with the history of the ers regularly Busho-march, the famous and traditional early-spring receive de- masquerade in the streets of Mohács, Hungary. Finally, grading treat- there is an article on the Venice Carnival. ment in the The Hungarian Association are in the process of officially course of such changing their name from Hungarian Prostitutes’ Advo- medical exams from the Vienna communal health cacy Association to Hungarian Sex Workers’ Advocacy office. They further denounce degrading treatment Association. The reason behind the change – as ex- on the part of police who use under-cover operations plained by representative András Szabó – is that the ex- to arrest unlicensed sex workers and charge them pression “sex worker” is much less burdened with the with misdemeanors. They report that stigmatization stigmata and prejudices regularly associated with the of sex workers leads to impunity for crimes against term “prostitute”. The change will, therefore, place the them. Finally, they also denounce the lack of em- organization in a better position regarding the tone of the ployment options for female asylum seekers, that public discourse on the rights of sex workers. restrict many women to sex work. You can download the newsletter PDF here: http://swannet.org/files/swannet/File/Documents/Heterak The PDF of the report is available at this link: _2szammailhez_jan2010.pdf http://www.sexworker.at/sexworker_uncat.pdf To read International news please visit SWAN website at http://swannet.org/en/ taxonomy/term/2 Acknowledgements SWAN project would not have been possible without the financial and information support of Sexual Health and Rights Project (SHARP) and Health Media of Open Society Institute (OSI).
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