December saw another raid on a sex workers’ workplace in Tel Aviv, with 11 people arrested on charges of running a ‘prostitution ring'. The raids targeted a number of workplaces around the city’s old central bus station.
Regional updates: Asia and the Pacific
Zi Teng, a sex worker-led organisation in Hong Kong, has marked International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, which falls each year on 17th December.
A man has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after a Singaporean court found that he paid a migrant sex worker using counterfeit notes that he made himself at home. In October 2017, Daniel Wong was convicted on two charges of counterfeiting and using the home-printed S$100 counterfeit notes. He was handed a 3-year sentence, though each charge was punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.
A spa and sauna house used by gay men in Jakarta has become the latest target of an ongoing police crackdown against sex workers and the LGBT community in Indonesia. On 6 October 2017, 51 men were arrested and detained, with media reporting that some could face up to six years in prison under pornography and sex work laws.
Agape International Missions (AIM), a US-based charity that operates brothel raids and ‘rehabilitation’ programmes in Cambodia, was almost forced to leave Cambodia and cease operations this summer, after a CNN news report on trafficking that featured AIM angered Cambodian citizens and high-level government officials, including the Prime Minister.
The news report, “Life after trafficking: The Cambodian girls sold for sex by their mothers,” originally released on 22 July 2017, quickly drew criticism from the public and Cambodian government for misrepresenting the problem of trafficking in Cambodia, and defaming Cambodian women and mothers in general to raise funds.
A Swedish NGO, Love and Hope (formerly LoveNepal) in Nepal collected donations from Swedish people based on false claims of “saving children from brothels” and posting photographs on social media of three girls they claimed to be sex workers.
In November 2017, the National Party Congress for the Chinese Communist Party may put pressure on the Chinese President, Xi Jinping to shutdown popular media platforms. While the current President is predicted to be re-elected for another five-year term, the crackdown on content on social media, as well as internet users ability to hide their identity from the government through VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections is in line with previous approaches and responses taken by his government.
Spokespeople from the Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Society, a cooperative bank run by sex workers in India, have told media how the introduction of an 18 percent GST (Goods and Services Tax) on sanitary napkins in India will negatively impact their community.
NSWP member organisation Project X have urged people to “scrutinise and seriously question the visual representation of sex workers in Singaporean mainstream media.” The call comes following several high profile raids on sex workers' workplaces in recent months, and subsequent stigmatising media coverage of the events. In a post on their Facebook page, Project X describe the media coverage as a “method of shaming” which “not only dehumanises the women in question, it also turns the matter into a one-sided conversation in which sex workers are ridiculed, talked about and talked at.”