Sex workers, governments and UN join hands to boost AIDS response in Asia-Pacific region

PATTAYA, Thailand, 15 October 2010 – At the first-ever Asia-Pacific consultation on HIV and sex work, sex workers, government officials and United Nations participants emphasized the need for urgent action to increase focus and positioning of sex work within HIV responses in the region.

Close to 150 delegates from eight countries (China, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Thailand) met in Pattaya, Thailand, to form partnerships and review policies and laws that keep sex workers from accessing HIV services and sexual and reproductive health services.

“Sex work interventions must be central to scaling up the HIV response, and listening to sex workers is crucial,” said Jan Beagle, Deputy Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) who spoke at the consultation. “Sex workers experience firsthand the effects of laws and harmful enforcement practices that violate their human rights and hamper progress on HIV,” he said. Continue reading

The Crusade Against Sex Trafficking

By Noy Thrupkaew

This article appeared in the October 5, 2009 edition of The Nation.
September 16, 2009

This article is the first part of a two-part series. The next installment will explore alternative approaches to addressing the problem of trafficking for the purposes of forced prostitution.
–The Editors

Gary Haugen is cradling the padlocks in his thick hands. A former high school football player–bristly crew cut, broad shoulders squeezed into a dress shirt–Haugen has more the mien of a military man than a lawyer, although his image is in keeping with the muscular work of the organization he founded and heads. The president of the International Justice Mission, an evangelical Christian organization devoted to combating human rights abuses in the developing world, Haugen is musing over the mementos of IJM’s work in India and Cambodia. The padlocks look ordinary enough: heavy brass, a squat square one, a round one with a key. But they had once hung on the doors of brothels, until local law enforcement busted the establishments in raids initiated by IJM. Continue reading

CA: REAL Women refused standing in prostitution law trial

Blog post
From Canadian Women’s Issues

Friday, July 3, 2009

The July 3 Globe and Mail has a story by Kirk Makin saying “An Ontario judge has turned down a request from two religious groups and a conservative women’s group to take part in a constitutional challenge of the country’s prostitution laws.” According to this story, the judge, Ted Matlow of the Ontario Superior Court, “said that the groups would be liable to turn the trial into a soapbox for spiritual views, which would be out of place in a strictly legal proceeding.”

Besides REAL Women, the groups were the Christian Legal Fellowship and the Catholic Civil Rights League. They argued the court should hear a broad range of voices on the issue. Continue reading

Cambodia: The traffic police

Jun 11th 2009 | PHNOM PENH From The Economist print edition

’Tis a pity, but she won’t go away

IN EERIE, deserted silence on the outskirts of Phnom Penh sits the Prey Speu detention centre. Barely legible on its grimy walls a few weeks ago were cries for help and whispers of despair from the tormented souls once crammed into its grimy cells. “This is to mark that I lived in terror under oppression,” read one message.

It recalls a Khmer Rouge torture centre from the genocidal 1970s. But in fact the building was used just last year as a “rehabilitation” centre, where detained sex-workers, along with beggars and the homeless, learnt sewing and cooking. They were rounded up in a crackdown on trafficking for the sex industry. At first an attempt to clean up Phnom Penh, it soon escalated into a violent campaign by the police against prostitutes and those living on the street. According to Licadho, a local human-rights group, guards at the centre beat three people to death, and at least five detainees killed themselves. Sreymoa, a trafficked sex-worker, detained in May 2008 with her four-year-old daughter, recalls daily beatings, rapes and one death. Continue reading

Halting spread of hiv/aids will require far greater access to prevention services,Treatment, care, support, say UN speakers as General Assembly concludes review

Submitted by Business Desk on June 19, 2009 – 11:50

Halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015 required far greater access to HIV prevention services and AIDS treatment, care and support than was currently available, General Assembly delegates stressed today, as they concluded their wide-ranging review of progress to date in fighting the pandemic.

Discussion throughout the two-day meeting, which heard a total of almost 50 Government and other representatives take the floor, centred on successes in, and obstacles to, implementing the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the follow-up Political Declaration of 2006. Speakers today hailed from countries with varying degrees of HIV/AIDS prevalence, but urged a united front against a common threat. Continue reading

UK: Is the number of trafficked call girls a myth?

Plans are afoot to give greater protection to trafficked prostitutes working in the UK. But how big is the current problem? It’s hard to know, although that hasn’t stopped some people from thinking they do, writes Ruth Alexander, of Radio 4’s More or Less.

Concern about trafficked sex workers has grown as borders between countries have become more porous. Now the government is planning to crack down on the problem by criminalising anyone caught paying for sex with a prostitute who has been trafficked or is marketed by a pimp.

But how many prostitutes are there in the UK who are “controlled for another person’s gain”? Continue reading

What Obama should do to save lives

YEARENDER: Politics of sex
Posted : Tue, 16 Dec 2008 05:09:24 GMT
Author : DPA

Washington – If you don’t talk about sex, you can’t save lives. But sex is complicated, and when it collides with politics and science it usually generates controversy.

Sexual and reproductive health are uncomfortable subjects – emotionally charged, morally loaded and politically sensitive – because they delve into the most intimate aspects of people’s lives.

Public health experts are clear that all government actions must be based on scientific evidence, but say that for several years, reproductive health policies in the United States have relied more on morality than science.
They hope once president-elect Barack Obama takes office, he will reverse many of the regressive sexual health policies of President George W Bush’s administration, which have damaged the reputation of the US at home and at abroad, and potentially put millions of lives at risk.

“With the election of … Obama … (we) look forward to an end to the Bush administration’s relentless assault on women’s reproductive health and rights,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR), a New York-based legal advocacy group.

“For eight years … we have suffered under the yoke of an administration that has suppressed science to the detriment of health and has done damage to constitutional and human rights value,” CRR wrote in a letter to Obama after his November 4 victory.

Continue reading