PAKISTAN: Sex work a dangerous game

KARACHI, 6 January 2009 (PlusNews) – On Napier Road, the notorious red light district in Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial centre and largest city, thousands of women regularly risk contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by having unprotected sex for as little as 50 Rupees (US$0.60).

“I was beaten black and blue by my pimp on my refusal to have unprotected sex,” said Nazli, a brothel-based female sex worker, pulling up her shirt to show her badly bruised back. “If I insist on using protection, I lose my customers and if anyone of them complains to my pimp, I am in trouble.”

Although she followed her mother and her grandmother into prostitution, Nazli had no knowledge about the importance of practicing safe sex and often suffers from STIs. Continue reading

HIV/AIDS in India: New Theories Versus the AIDS Lobby

December 15, 2008

by Rupa Chinai
- India -

During the course of the past decade, women diagnosed as HIV/AIDS patients in Mumbai have been trying to say something important that deserves close attention. These widows, whose husbands died from AIDS, claim their experience is quite contrary to Western science, which insists that HIV is a “death sentence.”

Poverty and malnutrition ensure that women in India bear the heavy burden of disease.

These AIDS widows have become “long-term survivors.” For more than 12 to 14 years, they have been living well and have not felt the need to start anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy. It was through good counseling groups that they found hope. They got access to good doctors whose detailed and regular check-ups caught infections early. They also found a support group among women with similar afflictions. Thereafter, a “positive attitude” became the buzzword in their lives.These women share their first hand experiences of this disease. They believe that their husbands did not suffer an early demise because of AIDS. They say their men died because of addiction to alcohol, gutka (chewing tobacco) or cigarettes, coupled with a careless attitude towards medication and failing to adopt changes in their lifestyle. Continue reading

New Zealand: “I’m 90% sure I want to get into sex work”

Posted in: Family Matters
By – 13th December 2008

19-year-old student Ax is considering becoming a sex worker. We sought advice for him from a gay counselor and a coordinator at the NZ Prostitutes Collective.


Hi. I’m an average to good looking gay 19-y-o student and I’m 90 percent sure I want to get into sex-work to help pay my scary study bills next year.

I just wanted to ask if there are any drawbacks to doing sex-work? And how do people get started? How much to charge, and how do you organise the deal?

Thanks and I apologise if this question is not appropriate.


Continue reading

Lambda Legal Files Federal Lawsuit Charging Johnson City Police Department with Bias

From Lambda Legal
‘In America, the police do not get to add an extra punishment to people they don’t like.’

(Johnson City, Tennessee, September 30, 2008) — Today Lambda Legal is filing a federal lawsuit in Tennessee on behalf of Kenneth Giles against Johnson City and its police chief. The lawsuit centers on the fact that the Johnson City Police Department (JCPD), in a highly unusual action for that Department, released photos of Giles and 39 other men who were arrested in a public sex sting operation.

“In America, the police do not get to add an extra punishment to people they don’t like,” said Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. “They also do not get to ignore the principle of innocent until proven guilty. The JCPD went out of its way to humiliate Mr. Giles and caused irreparable damage.”

On October 1, 2007 the JCPD issued a press release, personally approved by the police chief, that included photos that were taken at the scene where 40 men, including Mr. Giles, were arrested in a public sex sting. The local news ran the story prominently along with the pictures and addresses of the men involved. Lambda Legal reviewed the police department’s press releases for over a period of a year and found that out of approximately 600 other releases, none pertaining to arrests was accompanied by photos or personally approved by the chief. Of the 40 arrested, one man has committed suicide, and several others have lost their jobs, including Kenneth Giles, who was fired from his job as a nurse at the VA hospital.

“I don’t understand how the police department can release photos of one group and not any others,” said Kenneth Giles. “I lost my livelihood because my arrest was treated differently.”

Lambda Legal argues that the JCPD violated federal equal protection law by singling out these men for harsher treatment by making their images available to the media. Indeed, the actions of the JCPD are the latest in a long history of the police going beyond legitimate law enforcement measures to take extraordinary action designed to target gay men for humiliation and harassment, as explained in the attached Background Information Sheet.

Greg Nevins Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office is handling the case, Giles v. City of Johnson City, et al. Lambda Legal’s cooperating counsel in this case are John Winemiller of Merchant & Gould, P.C., and Lisa Linsky and Jill Basinger of McDermott, Will & Emery, LLP.


Contact: Tika Milan; E:


The actions of the Johnson City Police Department publicizing the photographs of men arrested as part of a sting operation targeting gay and bisexual men, while not similarly publicizing other arrests, are the latest chapter in a long history of police departments’ unequal treatment of members of the public based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Set forth below are examples based on historical records of anti-gay activity by law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

Police departments have selectively targeted gay men for enforcement of public sex laws while failing to devote the same enforcement efforts to public sex between men and women. See Baluyut v. Superior Court, 12 Cal.4th 826, 829 (1996) (court found that arrested gay men “established all of the factors necessary to establish constitutionally impermissible discriminatory prosecution .”); see also Hope v. City of Long Beach, 2005 WL 6009954 (C.D. Cal. 2005); Brown v. County of San Joaquin, 2006 WL 1652407 (E.D. Cal. 2006).

Some officers, not content with arresting wrongdoers, have gone to great lengths to entice men to commit crimes. In July 2008, a judge in Florida threw out charges of indecent exposure, committing a lewd act, and battery, because the officer “initiated the topic of sexual acts and repeatedly asked the defendant ‘what he was working with’” in order to entice the defendant to expose himself. City of Fort Lauderdale v. Marsh, In the County Court of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida, Case No. 70-018738MO10A, Order Granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.

In 2006, an appellate court in New Jersey reversed a conviction for lewdness, because the defendant presented “a persuasive attack on [the officer's] credibility, raising serious doubts about whether it was believable that a police officer could have had almost a hundred men approach him, pull out their genitals and start masturbating without any enticement by the officer at all.” State v. Mamone, 2006 WL 2237733 *6 (N.J. Super.A.D. 2006).

As in the Johnson City case, the police often have sought to punish men arrested for lewd conduct, often before conviction of any crime, through unusual public exposure of these arrests. Many police departments have publicized the identity of men arrested for this activity in ways that they do not do for other crimes, even those that are much more serious. “These solicitation laws frequently have devastating personal, social, and economic effects for those arrested, even though criminal penalties typically are slight . . .” Richard D. Mohr, Gays/Justice, A Study of Ethics, Society, and Law (Columbia University Press, 1988), 54-55.

One common practice has been sending reports of the arrests of gay men to their employers and landlords. Robert K. Woetzel, “Do Our Homosexualitly Laws Make Sense?”, Saturday Review of Literature, 48, p. 23-25, Oct. 9, 1965.

“[T]he overwhelming majority of abuses, along with the customary notification of employers and publication of names in local newspaper, was simply endured.” Gary David Comstock, Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men (Columbia University Press, 1991), p. 13.

“Very often, the charges were thrown out, but by that time, damage was done: local newspapers had published the names of the people charged, and their jobs, marriages, and positions in society were all at risk.” Simon LeVay and Elisabeth Nonas, City of Friends: A Portrait of the Gay and Lesbian Community in America (MIT Press 1995), p. 44.

Over the years, police departments have engaged in large-scale roundups of gay men for “questioning” with no charges. One of the most well-known of these anti-gay campaigns involved the rounding up of 1400 men in Boise, Idaho in the 1950′s. John Gerassi, The Boys of Boise (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001).

Police in Miami Beach admitted to a similar practice, with the Miami Beach police chief that his force would “harass” gay men “and let them know in no uncertain terms that they are unwelcome on Miami Beach.” One, Vol. II, No. 1 (Jan. 1954), p. 19.

The Vice Squad director in Tampa confessed in almost verbatim words that this also was true in his jurisdiction; One, Vol. IX, No. 12, p. 9 (Dec. 1961) (the “harassment routine . . . will continue until we’re sure these people know without a doubt they are not wanted in Tampa.”). One incident reflected the Tampa police department’s hostility toward lesbians, in addition to gay men. There, the police held twelve women without charge on “general investigation,’ to be fingerprinted, questioned, and subjected to mug shots. If their records are clean, said the vice chief, ‘We’ll have to let them go for now, but we’re going to keep after them until we run them out of town.’” One, Vol. V, No. 8 (Oct.-Nov. 1957), p. 19.

Law enforcement officials falsely have suggested that gay men are more responsible than heterosexuals for sexual assaults on children. For example, in Dade County, a police commission official stated that there was a “connection” between the open operation of gay bars and increased complaints of child molestation in the community; One, Vol. II, No. 1 (Jan. 1954), p. 21. Indeed, not only have scientific studies failed to prove a link between men’s interest in other men and pedophilia, but some studies have shown that such an incidence is very rare. See Gregory Herek, Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation, (citing study of 175 men convicted of sexual assault against a child where, of the 60% who were primarily attracted to adults, none of them were primarily sexually attracted to other adult males (citing Groth, A.N., & Birnbaum, H.J. (1978). Adult sexual orientation and attraction to underage persons. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7 (3), 175-181); citing a study of abused children in the Denver area where the abuser could be identified, only 2 of the 269 children were abused by a gay man or a lesbian (citing Jenny, C., Roesler, T. A., & Poyer, K. L. (1994). Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals? Pediatrics, 94(1), 41-44)).

Police have engaged in extortion schemes targeting gay men, exploiting these men’s concerns over public trials that would expose their sexual orientation. For example, a grand jury in Pittsburgh uncovered a racket by Pittsburgh police “of framing men on ‘morals charges’ then arranging, through ‘cooperative’ attorneys, to drop charges after ‘payments’ were made.” One, Vol. V, No. 4, p. 11 (Apr. 1957).

A nearly identical scheme was uncovered in Chicago, in which the lawyers would kickback some of their excessive fees to the arresting officers. Robert L. Jacobson, ” ‘Megan’s Laws’ Reinforcing Old Patters of Anti-Gay Police Harassment,” 88 Geo. L.J. 2431, 2438 n.50 (July 1999).

Over the years, there has been a significant improvement in many police departments’ recognition of their obligation to “protect and serve” all members of the community, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Many departments actively train their officers to respond to the needs of all segments of the community and some have created a liaison officer position to respond better to the needs of the LGBT community. Nevertheless, as this case reflects, much work needs to be done to ensure that the men and women charged with keeping our communities safe live up to the highest ideals of the public trust vested in them.

African MSM & Sex Workers Voice Concerns and Hopes at AIDS 2008

The AIDS 2008 conference (IAC) in Mexico City drew to a close on August, 8th, 2008. The theme of the conference was “universal action now” and judging by the heavy international attendance, the focus on marginalized communities and the daily newsletter aptly called “Global Voice”, it delivered on the promise. Here we review testimonies from African participants at the conference, their perspectives on the 6 days-long summit and issues they wished were addressed further.

Dr. Nabulo Mabaso, Deputy Medical Director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation‘s Ithembalabantu “People’s Hope” Clinic in Durban expresses his satisfaction that support for marginalized communities (sex workers, men who have sex with men, and indigeneous people) was emphasized by conference organizers. However, he explains that this focus should extend to other marginalized communities and even currently isolated nations:

“There is still limited access to treatment. For example, my neighboring country, Zimbabwe, it might be politically unstable, but there are people on the ground who are suffering and because of sanctions that are being imposed funders are not going to Zimbabwe. At the end of the day, it’s the lives of individuals and I hope the theme of universal access is really put into practice”.

George Kanuma lives in Bujumbura and is an activist for the France-based association Africa Gay and is a member of ANSS (National Association for HIV-Positive and AIDS patients in Burundi). He is content with the renewed emphasis on MSM (Men having Sex with Men) and sex workers at the conference (fr):

However, in some French-speaking African countries, discrimination is still very strong, he explains (fr):

“Il y a certain pays comme le Cameroun ou le Sénégal qui criminalise encore l’homosexualité [..] Il y a des cas aussi comme au Ruanda, la présidente de l’association gay et lesbienne au Ruanda ne peut toujours pas quitté son pays, parce que la police de l’immigration a pris son passeport.”

A few countries, like Cameroon or Senegal, still criminalize homosexuality. [..] There are also cases like the one in Rwanda, where the president of the LGBT association cannot exit her country because the immigration police is still holding her passport.

The Fimizore project in Madagascar was one of the recipient of the 2008 UNAIDS Red Ribbon Award. Balou, a trans-gendered sexual worker and her colleague Jeannie, are members of the project and they both weighed in on their hope and concerns for the conference. Like Kanuma, they both emphasized the need to end marginalization of sexual workers if we want to effectively fight HIV/AIDS (mg):

“Ny fanilikilhina indrindra no manankana ny MSM sy ny TDS hikarakara ny fahasalamany […] Io moa dia eo ihany ny fomba-drazana antsika malagasy, raha ohatra hoe msm dia tsy tafiditra am-pasan-drazana. Raha amin’ny autorites dia mahafa-po fa raha amin’ny societe civile, mbola mila fivoarana.”

Marginalization is what prevents MSM (men having sex with men) and TDS ( sexual workers) from taking care of their health [..] There are also the walls of traditional Malagasy culture. For instance, if you are a MSM, you will not be allowed to enter the familial cemetery (when you pass away). The official authorities have made great strides but the civil society has still a long way to go (in ending marginalization).

Finally, marginalized communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS are not only products of cultural intolerance or political agendas. They are also the result of economic hardships or plain geographical locations. In this video, on The Hub, Dr. Phillip Njemanze, in Imo State, Nigeria, explains the struggle for HIV positive people in rural areas to monitor their immune system:

“In rural areas in Imo State, CD4 testing is non-existent. This means for 3.5 million people you have only two centers that can measure CD4 count in the whole state [..] The most important thing would be, to be able to move around with the test and go where the patients are.”

Sex Work, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights: From Criminalization to Protection

Kelly Castagnaro on August 8, 2008 – 11:08am
Kelly Castagnaro's picture

Thursday, at a panel session on sex work and human rights, advocates called for the implementation of effective HIV program and policy interventions based on the respect for the human rights of sex workers.

“We are not part of the problem; we are the solution,” said Alejandra Gil of Mexico. “Don’t close your eyes; we are here: we are youth, men who have sex with men and women living with HIV.  We are not going away.”

Across cultures, sex workers have been historically cast as social deviants and victims.  They have been further stigmatized and discriminated against as disease vectors in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  As a result, governments have enacted policies that criminalize and violate the health and human rights of sex workers.

While criminalization may have political appeal, there is no evidence that this is an effective strategy for protecting sex workers from violence and abuse. In fact, there is growing evidence from numerous countries, including Sweden, that criminalizing the sex worker or her/his client is likely to contribute to the abuse and marginalization of sex workers. Criminalization gives latitude to the police to abuse sex workers, and leads to other human rights violations.

Enacting bad policies is not going to improve the state of HIV/AIDS in the sex worker community.  Changing the course of the epidemic requires measures that empower sex workers against HIV/AIDS.  Policymakers and implementers need to end the conflation of trafficking, sex work and violence by recognizing that sex work is work, and that men, women and transgenders have the right to earn a living with dignity and respect. Sex workers need to be meaningfully involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of policies and research on sex work so that programs addressing the gender equality, violence and economic disparities among this population can be effectively implemented.

These changes are crucial to move the discussion beyond vice and victim hood and create concrete policy solutions that respect the rights of sex workers and provide HIV/AIDS services free of stigma and discrimination.

Gay group calls for legalizing prostitution in D.C.

GLAA says ‘prohibition’ creates more problems than it solves

Jun. 27, 2008

The Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA), the local gay group credited with persuading the D.C. government to adopt far-reaching gay and transgender rights legislation since the 1970s, added to its 2008 election year agenda a call for legalizing prostitution in the District.

In a development likely to create a stir in local political circles, the group will include a question about legalized prostitution in its questionnaire for all candidates running this year for seats on D.C. City Council. The non-partisan GLAA uses responses it receives from questionnaires to formulate its widely publicized candidate ratings on gay issues.

“We know that we are breaking a taboo by discussing this,” the group states in a 26-page election year position paper, “Agenda: 2008,” which it posted on its web site, The paper discusses a wide range of gay and AIDS issues unrelated to prostitution.

“But avoiding the issue will not make it go away,” the GLAA document states. “We ask those who disagree with our position to address our arguments seriously. Failed policies do not deserve to be defended with reflexive dismissals.”

GLAA Vice President Rick Rosendall said the group decided to take a public stand on prostitution as part of its advocacy work on certain issues that are not specifically gay related but that have an impact on gay people and on civil liberties and personal freedoms for all people.

Rosendall points to the GLAA Agenda: 2008 paper’s assertion that people involved in prostitution — both men and women — are likely to face problems that won’t disappear upon legalization, although those problems would be mitigated if the government did not subject prostitutes to criminal prosecution.

He said communities faced with problems of street prostitution, including neighborhoods in D.C., would be better off if prostitution were legalized, regulated, zoned and taxed.

“When it’s forced underground, you can’t control where it takes place,” he said.

The GLAA Agenda: 2008 document states that negative effects of criminalizing prostitution have spilled over into the gay and transgender community.

“As advocates of the legalization of prostitution, we think it needs neither sanitizing nor glorifying,” the agenda document states. “It is not a profession filled exclusively with people who freely chose it from a host of options. No doubt there are some in that category, like the college student turning tricks for extra cash.

“But too many turn to it by necessity,” it says. “These include gay teenagers who have been thrown out of the house by their parents and transgender people whom discrimination has left with few options.”

The GLAA agenda document adds, “Harassing, arresting and prosecuting people for survival sex solves none of their problems. It only piles on more.

“Whose idea of responsible public policy is this?” the paper says. “To be justified, any public law ought to serve some identifiable common good … No matter how bad you may think something is, if your proposed response is only likely to make it worse, then you should pull back.”

The Nevada Coalition Against Sex Trafficking, which advocates for re-criminalizing prostitution in Nevada, charges that the state’s legal brothels exploit the women sex workers.

“Legalization of prostitution does not decrease the physical and emotional safety of women in prostitution,” the group argues on the anti-prostitution web site, “There is no way to make prostitution ’a little bit better.’”

George Flint, executive director of the Nevada Brothel Owners Association, disputes those claims, saying virtually all advocates for re-criminalizing prostitution in Nevada oppose it on moral grounds and almost always “tell a pack of lies” about what goes on in the state’s legal brothels.

He said strict state regulations and a strongly held policy by brothel owners, provides the mostly female sex workers with a safe and supportive work environment. He said most full-time sex workers in the legal brothels earn between $200,000 and $300,000 a year.

Although most of the male customers are older, often overweight and rarely look like Hollywood movie stars, Flint said the brothels have a tight security system and strict policies in place that never tolerate mistreatment of the sex workers.

There have been no reported cases of a prostitute in a legal brothel in the state being infected with HIV by a brothel customer since the start of the AIDS epidemic, Flint said. He said the last syphilis case reported to have occurred from a john to a prostitute in a legal Nevada brothel occurred 13 years ago, and transmission of other, non-HIV sexually transmitted diseases are extremely rare.

GLAA leaders say they don’t expect the city to legalize prostitution any time soon and they acknowledge that Congress would swoop down and overturn even the most limited law to lessen the current city laws making prostitution a crime.

“Our purpose is to get people to think about this,” Rosendall said.

The question that will appear on the GLAA candidate questionnaire on the subject states, “What are your thoughts regarding GLAA’s proposal, as explained in Agenda: 2008, to mitigate the problems associated with prostitution by legalizing, regulating, zoning and taxing it?”

Afghanistan: Defending freedom to abuse


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Police rape of Afghan boys ignored


National Post

In Ottawa

Canadian soldiers in the main guard tower at forward operating base Wilson last summer winced when I asked about the sudden lineup of teenage boys along the mud walls of the neighbouring Afghan market.

“Wait a few minutes. You’ll see,” said one, his lip curling. “It’s disgusting.”

Sure enough, a handful of uniformed Afghan police officers emerged from their rundown detachment, walked through the barricades and started chatting up the dozen or so teens, some looking decidedly pre-teen.

A few minutes after they returned, the selected kids were waved through the main gates and went straight inside the police station. An hour later, when I left the observation post, the boys were still inside.

This evening ritual is often derided by soldiers as manlove Thursdays.

Afghan officials insist the notion of men and boys getting together the night before the Muslim holy day for sex is a myth. And, sure, it’s theoretically possible the cops were merely good-deed-doers giving these teens reading lessons.

But Canadian soldiers insisted we had just witnessed the regular Thursday evening negotiation for sex between Afghan men and boys, apparently for gifts or money.

It raises the disquieting question of how much responsibility Canadian soldiers shoulder, being military guests and all, to stop Afghan activity that would result in rape or child prostitution charges back home.

It should be stressed that the activity at FOB Wilson does not mean Afghan police and army officers are engaged in an epidemic of juvenile sodomy.

But the issue was given fresh legs last week by a military chaplain named Jean Johns, who reported that soldiers under treatment for posttraumatic stress syndrome had been told to “ignore” any assaults or rapes on Afghan civilians they had seen.

The Toronto Star also reports a Canadian soldier overheard an Afghan soldier abusing a young boy in late 2006 and later saw the victim with signs of rape trauma, specifically protrusions of his bowels and lower intestine.

There’s not much doubt that while the Canadian military may jackboot the Taliban at will, soldiers have to tiptoe around Islamic justice that clashes with our version of the law and the consequences for breaking it.

If Canadian soldiers had intervened between Afghan police and boys clearly selling themselves for sex, for example, an important partnership would quickly sour.

Now that several years’ worth of Taliban prisoners have been freed during the Kandahar prison breakout, we arguably need what passes for an Afghan police force more than ever.

Still, Defence Minister Peter MacKay told the Commons he’d met with military leaders yesterday and insisted soldiers “report any allegation of unlawful activity they see.”

That’s easy for him to say, as Canadian soldiers rumble LAVs through marijuana crops or swaths of opium-producing poppies so vast, a single field would net Canadian law enforcement its annual seizure.

There’s not much even top military brass or diplomats can do to prevent marriages forced on pre-teen Afghan girls or women who have been raped from being charged with adultery for failing to convince male justice that the intercourse wasn’t consensual. Global pressure barely prevented an Afghan student from being executed for downloading a report on women’s rights from the Internet.

Yet Canadians have a right to question the sort of Afghan freedom our troops are being sacrificed to defend if police can molest young boys without fear of our intervention.

No wonder Canadian soldiers come home confiding that killing Taliban insurgents isn’t as stressful as knowing an innocent kid might be regularly raped by an Afghan cop inside a Canadian military base.

Man-boy homosexuality has flourished anew in the aftermath of Taliban zero-tolerance laws, albeit a selectively punished offence in that era. Warlords again parade cities with teenage boys known as an “ashna” by their side.

The strict social separation and severe consequences for premarital sex with women have given rise to the cultural wrinkle of men used for sexual recreation and women reserved for reproduction.

But that hardly makes it right when Afghan boys are police rape victims.

And it’s a wrong that Canadian soldiers should be encouraged to report so that Afghan officers being trained in law enforcement can be pressured to stop it themselves.

SF: Deviants on Parade

Folsom Street Fair and America’s 4th Sexual Revolution

Weekend Edition
October 20 / 21, 2007

For the last twenty-four years, gay and straight sexual deviants have met in San Francisco during Leather Pride Week to celebrate the Folsom Street Fair. This year, on Sunday, September 30th, between three-hundred-and-fifty and four hundred thousand fetishists, their admirers and voyeurs gathered in what is considered the world’s largest assembly of sexual deviants. While the street fair was the centerpiece of the week’s adventures, almost every night featured a special deviant-themed event.

One night the Leathermen’s Discussion Group hosted a “Fetish Fair” that showcased a variety of b&d/s&m demonstrations featuring “some of the most knowledgeable and respected experts in the community.” Other special events included an evening with erotic performance artists Cleo Dubois and Fakir; a formal gay-oriented uniform dinner, Roll Call 2007, sponsored by California Boots and Breeches Corp.; a male/male spanking get-together; and a host of after-hour private fetish sex parties for both straight and gay male and female adventurers. Continue reading


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