Who do you work with?:
HARC, the HIV/AIDS Research and Welfare Centre, is a collectivity or network of 5000 female sex workers in Bangladesh who are active in hotel and residence-based sex work. HARC is also working with the children of sex workers but the main groups are female sex workers in all Bangladesh.
How are sex workers involved in your organisation?:
HARC is a pure sex workers organisation. All the executive board members are either current or ex-sex workers. The EC makes all the major decisions to manage and develop the organisation. There is an advisory committee and over 50% of the advisory committee members are also from sex workers of all gender. Over 80% of staff are female sex workers, only few technical staff are from non-sex workers community but they are working under the supervision of sex workers.
Which of NSWP priority areas does your organisation work on?:
Oppose the criminalisation and other legal oppression of sex work and support its recognition as work
Critique the trafficking paradigm that conflates representations of sex work, migration, and mobility
Advocate for universal access to health services, including primary health care, HIV and sexual and reproductive health services
Speak out about violence against sex workers, including violence from police, institutions, clients, and intimate partners, while challenging the myth that sex work is inherently gender-based violence
Oppose human rights abuses, including coercive programming, mandatory testing, raids and forced rehabilitation
Challenge stigma and discrimination against sex workers, their families and partners, and others involved in sex work
Advocate for the economic empowerment and social inclusion of sex workers as sex workers
What are the two main challenges that the sex workers you work with face:
HARC has been active in identifying and challenging the underlying socio-structural factors that help perpetuate stigmatisation, material deprivation, and social exclusion of sex-workers in Bangladesh. HARC is explicit about its political objective to establish the rights of sex workers. HARC demands the legal recognition of sex work as work, and of sex workers as workers.
Describe other areas of your work:
Empowering the sex worker communities through mobilisation and capacity building. Influencing to change existing norms, policies and practices, operating at all levels in the society through advocacy. Improvement of the ownership and quality of sexual and reproductive health services. Building formal and informal alliances with individuals, groups and organisations.