Since its inception in 1996, The Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP) has taken a rights-based approach to sex worker organising. Prior to VAMP’s existence, Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha (SANGRAM) had been running the peer intervention program with sex workers, and SANGRAM went on to support sex workers with resources and training to develop the collective.
Our members are local, national and regional sex worker organisations and networks, across five regions: Africa; Asia Pacific; Europe (including Eastern Europe and Central Asia); Latin America; and North America and the Caribbean.
Featured member profiles highlight the work of NSWP’s member organisations around the world. The profiles are written by our regional correspondents.
Which countries and/or regions does the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) focus on?
The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) is based in New Zealand. The National Coordinator, Catherine Healy, told NSWP that their advocacy work is often international, given interest in the New Zealand model on the decriminalisation of sex work. Many delegations visit NZPC to find out more about sex work in New Zealand and to learn more about the decriminalisation of sex work.
Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) is a sex worker-led organisation that includes sex workers, women who have sex with women (WSW), women who use drugs and bar hostesses in Kenya. Founded in 1998, the organisation serves as a common voice in efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination, while engaging various stakeholders in advocacy and policy dialogue. It is the first and oldest sex worker-led organisation in Kenya.
PARCES NGO is a sex worker-led organisation in Bogotá, Colombia. “The main purpose of the organisation is to identify the different forms of discrimination experienced by sex workers and fight oppression and violence against sex workers, LGBT people, trans women, drug users and panhandlers,” said Sebastian Laz Sanchez from PARCES.
PARCES firmly believes that the police, citizens and all state institutions must respect sex workers. Sex workers in Colombia are criminalised and sex workers often experience violence at the hands of the police. Health institutions deny service to sex workers, and the mass media presents sex workers in a way that reproduces stigma against sex workers.
Miriam Edwards is the Executive Director and founding member of the Guyana Sex Work Coalition (GSWC) and co-chair of the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition. The GSWC is “a network of groups and individuals living in Guyana that are engaged in sex work” and which embraces “female, male and trans sex workers from both urban and rural communities whose work may be street-based, hotel/motel-based, or brothel-based.”
History of Project X- Singapore
The Association of Female Sex Workers, "Colectivo Flor de Azálea," was formally created on the 14th of February, 2002 in Machala, Ecuador. Their goal is to provide sex workers with the tools to organise and empower themselves in order to stop the stigma, violence, and discrimination they face.
Silver Rose is a sex worker-led organisation and member of NSWP, representing sex workers and their allies. They bring together the leaders of the sex work community and their supporters.
The HIV/AIDS Research and Welfare Centre (HARC) works with sex workers across Bangladesh who are active in hotels and residences. HARC has around 2500 members, all female sex workers.
Josiane Tety Prunelle (photographed above) works for Bléty, a non-governmental sex worker-led organisation that was founded in Abidjan, the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. In the local language, Bléty means ‘hope’.
Josiane described herself as an activist for sex workers’ rights. The photograph of her above signifies a lot to her. She said, “I am looking out at the horizon, which represents a world of hope that the life and living conditions of sex workers will get better someday.”
Which countries and/or regions is your organization focused on in terms of mobilizing support for the work that you do?
Aye Myanmar Association (AMA) is a countrywide network of sex workers, working in seven state divisions in Myanmar, including secondary and capital cities like Yangon, Mandalay, Bago Meikhtilar and Pyay.
The Sex Workers' Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) is the regional network of sex work organisations in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This interview with the SWAN Programme Officer focuses on the history, work and challenges of the SWAN network.
NSWP Canadian member group Butterfly – Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network state “Sex Workers’ Rights and Migrants Rights are Human Rights”. This summarises the unique cross-section of priorities and challenges that this young and active group works on. This profile and interview with founder Elene Lam outlines Butterfly's history, work and challenges.
"Our enemies are inequality, iniquity, discrimination, stigma, violence and exploitation. We need to fight them together."
Karina Bravo is Project Coordinator at Colectivo Flor de Azalea in Ecuador and Coordinator of the Latin American Platform of Persons Who Perform Sex Work (PLAPERTS). She is a regional representative of NSWP. In this interview, the sex worker leader talks about her life, work and activism.
"From our very marginalised position, we have challenged the mainstream discourses of state feminist organisations or trade unions and their narrow idea of what a (free) woman is, or what a worker is."
Marie is the General Secretary at the Syndicat du Travail Sexuel (STRASS), the French union for sex workers. In this interview, the sex worker leader talks about her activism, labour rights for sex workers and current developments in sex worker rights activism in France.
The Associação das Prostitutas de Minas Gerais (APROSMIG) is an active sex worker group in Brazil. This interview with an APROSMIG staff member focuses on the organisations' role within the Brazil network of sex worker-led organisations, its work and challenges.
The Nikat Charitable Association is a grass-roots, community-based local NGO in Ethiopia. This interview with Gelila Mekonnen, Chair of the Board of Directors of NIKAT, focuses on the history, work and challenges of the organisation.
Stella is a Canadian sex worker group dedicated to improve the quality of work and life of sex workers. It also aims to educate the greater public on sex work and the lived realities of sex workers. This profile and interview with a staff member focuses on the history, work and challenges of the organisation.
Gabriela Leite was a leader of the Brazil sex workers' movement. In this article, the author recalls important moments in Gabriela's life, work and activism.
I first met with members of the Malawi Sex Workers Alliance (MASWA) during the 17th ICASA conference that was held in Cape Town in December 2013. I had the great pleasure to meet the beautiful, ever smiling Zinenani Lucy Majawa, the publicity secretary of MASWA, and was very excited to be interviewing her two years later, on the strides taken by this young and vibrant movement.