Asian sex worker Tammy Le was found dead on the 23rd of January in an apparent murder, according to NSWP member organisation Butterfly – Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network. Her death is the latest in a series of murders of Asian sex workers over the past two years in the Hamilton and Mississauga region of Ontario, Canada. The previous two victims were Jiali Zhang in 2013 and Evelyn Bumatay Castillo in 2014.
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Leeds has become the first city in the United Kingdom to have its own full-time ‘red light district’ where sex workers can legally operate, as long as they follow certain regulations.
Prior to this, sex workers in the Holbeck area of Leeds were allowed to work between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Following the success of the pilot project, the city decided to keep the red light district permanently.
Fourteen sex workers were arrested on the 24th of January in Cambodia, and taken to the infamous ‘rehabilitation’ centre known locally as Prey Speu.
This makes a total of 289 sex workers arrested in the last 13 months, according to the Cambodian sex workers’ union Women’s Network for Unity (WNU). These are only the cases WNU have been able to document. “Many others have been routinely arrested that we can’t capture in our outreach and program activities”, says WNUs’ Managing Director Samara Shehata.
Galina, a 28-year-old Bulgarian sex worker was found murdered in Oslo in a carpark, on the 17 of December, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. She went missing on Wednesday the 16 of December. Her friends did not go to the police but went looking for her themselves, only calling the police when they found her body the day afterward.
NIKAT, a sex worker-led organisation and NSWP member has started a community-led radio project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The founding members of NIKAT wanted to find new ways to do outreach to the community in Addis Ababa and they decided to start a sex worker-led radio programme on FM Shegar 102.1. The programme is called Betegna Radio Programme.
NSWP is part of Bridging the Gaps – health and rights for key populations. Together with almost 100 local and international organisations Bridging the Gaps partners have united to reach one mission: achieving universal access to HIV/STI prevention, treatment, care and support for key populations, including sex workers, LGBT people and people who use drugs. Bridging the Gaps has published their 2015 Report, which summarises the activities of its funding recipients in the period from September 2011 to December 2015.
In a December press release, a Florida Sheriff released the names and personal information of 50 sex workers, four of whom were identified as trans. The arrests were part of a sting called “Operation Naughty Not Nice,” which brought together multiple law enforcement agencies in Florida. Fifty sex workers were charged, along with 33 clients and 12 others. Sheriff Grady Judd issued a press release with their names and personal information, including date of birth and places of work.
The International AIDS Conference 2016 (IAC) is calling for research abstracts and workshop proposals. It also welcomes activity proposals for the Global Village & Youth programme, a space centered around networking within and between communities. The IAC will take place on 18-22 July in Durban, South Africa.
The IAC is an important space for sharing knowledge and for advocacy for persons living with HIV. The previous edition of the conference, held in 2014, drew criticism from both the sex worker and drug user movements regarding the lack of meaningful representation and participation in the conference of communities who are highly stigmatised, marginalised and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
The closing, and reopening, of brothels and red light districts in Indonesia has been happening for many years. Several brothel areas were closed in high profile operations across the country in 2015. A closure in Papua was attended by the national Minister for Social Affairs as she launched a “national anti-prostitution movement.”
Seventeen representatives of sex worker organisations in South Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe took part in a training workshop organised by the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) in Siem Reap, Cambodia from 5-10 December, 2015. The workshop was part of series designed specifically for sex workers, to build the knowledge and ability of NSWP members to engage and work with The Global Fund mechanisms in their countries.
The Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) and NSWP have hosted a training on sex worker advocacy and the implementation of rights-based HIV/STI programmes in Budapest, Hungary.
Newly appointed Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has set her sights on repealing Canada’s anti-sex work laws. Maclean’s reports that Canada’s new anti-sex work laws are one of three major priorities for the Minister. The law is called the Protecting Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA). It came into effect in December 2014 as a result of the Supreme Court’s Bedford decision.
NSWP member organisation SWOP USA launched a campaign to end PEPFAR’s “anti-prostitution loyalty oath,” in November. The campaign is in collaboration with SWOP Philadelphia, New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance, Desiree Alliance, and Best Practices Policy Project. All are NSWP member organisations. PEPFAR stands for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. It is a United States funder that provides money for local and international projects aimed at reducing HIV transmission. PEPFAR is one of the largest global funders of HIV prevention money, with a budget of $6.73 billion as of 2014.
Nilay, a 33-year-old transgender sex worker was found dead November 23rd in her house in Maltepe, Istanbul, several days after Transgender Day of Remembrance. Police responded to an Istanbul LGBTI activist who requested information by saying “she is already dead, why do you care?”
African sex workers’ rights activists were recently trained on how work with regional, and international human rights processes in Port Louis, Mauritius. The goal of the training was to help sex workers’ right activists work with the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACPHR) as well as other human rights mechanisms including treaty bodies and conventions, to hold their countries accountable when their rights are violated.
Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer failed to appear in a US Congressional Hearing on November 19th. Ferrer may face contempt charges as a result. “Definance of a congressional subpoena is rare and it’s serious,” said Senator Rob Portman. Portman and Senator Claire McCaskill are leading a subcommittee investigation into Backpage’s supposed involvement in ‘sex trafficking’.
NSWP member organisation Butterfly – Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Network have called for an end to anti-trafficking campaigns in Canada. Joining the call are No One Is Illegal, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, STRUT, and NSWP member organisations Migrant Sex Workers Project and Maggie’s: Toronto’s Sex Worker Action Project. The group of organisations are centering the voices of migrant sex workers. Migrant sex workers in Canada face police harassment, arrest, detention, and deportation.
California voters will have the chance to vote on restricting porn performers to using condoms next year. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced the upcoming 2016 vote earlier this month, according to the Washington Post. The vote comes after several years of campaigning by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).
The Czech Republic introduces training for sex workers to provide legal, paid services to people with disabilities. Five sex workers, called sexual assistants, were trained by the Czech charity Rozkoš bez Rizika (Bliss without Risk). Their services are approved by the Interior Ministry. Sex work in Czech Republic is not illegal, but organised sex work is prohibited. Despite this the sex industry is widespread.
Sex workers in Vancouver, Canada, are planning to create a permanent memorial for their coworkers. Sex workers announced their plans at a community meeting on November 4, 2015.
The West End Sex Work Memorial Project was founded by sex worker activist Jamie Lee Hamilton and sociologist Becki Ross of the University of British Columbia. The memorial is planned for Vancouver’s West End, an area where many sex workers worked in the 1970s-80s.
The Tajik Parliament wants to abolish sex work. They are introducing harsher measures under the Administrative Liability Code, hoping this will deter sex workers from working in the industry. According to the Tajik news source Ozodi, under new and harsher rules set out in the Administrative Liability Code, sex workers caught breaking the law for the first time will be required to pay double what they paid in the past.