One hundred and twenty-five migrants were arrested in raids on New Year's Eve in Indonesia. The raid on Sun City nightclub in West Jakarta saw 76 Chinese women arrested. An additional 49 migrants were also arrested during similar operations, with individuals coming from various countries such as Australia, Hong Kong, India, Papua New Guinea, France and Italy.
Hundreds of sex workers were detained in raids conducted in three nightclubs in Beijing on 23 December 2016. Days later, on 25 December, Beijing police shared details of the raids on popular Chinese social media platform, Weibo. The police gave details of the location of the raids: Dongcheng in the east of Beijing and Haidan in the north west.
On 9 January 2017, the popular advertising platform Backpage.com removed the adult section of its website in the United States. The closure placed thousands of American sex workers in crisis. They removed the adult section hours after The Senate Homeland Security Committee published a report from subpoenaed internal documents of Backpage.com.
On 28 December 2016, 39 sex workers were arrested under the Rogue and Vagabond offence in the Malawian criminal code. This offence is often used to target street-based sex workers, drug users, vendors, and homeless people.
Section 184(1) (c) of the Penal Code provides that, “every person found in or upon or near any premises of any road or highway or any place adjacent thereto or in any public place at such time and under such circumstances as to lead to the conclusion that such person is there for an illegal or disorderly purpose, is deemed a rogue and vagabond.”
Michael Lodberg Olsen has launched Sexelance, a project that makes street-based sex work more safe. Sexelance is an ambulance car that can be used by street-based sex workers to see clients. Inside the car there are banners saying that the volunteers will call the police if there are signs of violence. The banners also encourage sex workers to inform the authorities if they are victims of trafficking.
A recent announcement which has seen two highest value bank notes in India (Rs 500 and Rs 1000) demonetised has had wide reaching impacts on many communities. Demonesation means the bank notes are no longer legal to use.
On the 18 November SWEAT and Sisonke with the Gauteng Sex Worker Sector and the Gauteng Provincial Legislature held the Sex Worker's Sector Parliament. Four hundred and fifty sex workers participated in the Sex Workers’ Parliament in the province of Gauteng in northern South Africa.
Currently, the most important Global Fund action is the issue of Country Allocations for 2017 - 2019 and the development of the list and priorities for Catalytic Investment.
The Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCM) have received the Funding Allocation letter. Sex workers and sex workers’ rights organisations should contact their Community Representatives on their CCM and request that they share the contents of the Allocation letter. This is not a confidential letter and there is no reason why sex workers and sex workers’ rights organisations should not see the contents.
In preparation for Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), UN Women convened an Expert Group Meeting on the priority theme: “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.” The meeting was at the International Labour Organization (ILO) Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, from 26 to 28 September 2016. The report included recommendations about sex work, including the decriminalisation of sex workers and clients in order to safeguard the human rights of sex workers.
Sex workers' rights are human rights AND sex workers’ rights are women’s rights! The #AreWeNotWomen campaign seeks to highlight how sex workers are being excluded and silenced by some of the women's movement in the development of the new UN Women sex work policy.
Kemalita Ördek, the executive director of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association, a transgender sex worker and human rights activist, was violently attacked by 3 criminals in her house in Ankara in July 2015. All 3 attackers were found guilty and sentenced.
The Philippine Sex Workers Collective is speaking out against human rights violations against sex workers and drug users. In a statement on their website published on 27 October, the collective explains how oppression against drug users is similar to oppression against sex workers and it is important to stand in solidarity with anyone whose rights are violated.
The 11th Harm Reduction Conference took place in San Diego, California from 3-6 November. It included workshops, talks, and panels with American sex work organisations such as HIPS, SWOP-USA and independent sex work activists like Emi Koyama, who works out of Portland and Seattle. Koyama is active in American sex work advocacy. She presents workshops and speaking on panels at conferences such as the Desiree Alliance and The Seattle Annual Sex Work Symposium hosted by SWOP Seattle.
Niurkeli, a 33-year-old transgender sex worker, was murdered by a client in Nantes, France. Niurkeli was migrant sex worker of Ecuadorian origin. She was living in Paris with her family. Since 2014 her work conditions have deteriorated. “She was known in the sex worker community and often went to demos for sex workers' rights and against criminalisation,” said Thierry Schaffauser from STRASS.
In Sacramento California, police continue to raid and close massage parlours. These raids are devastating for the sex workers employed in the parlours who, when left without adequate income sources, often find themselves homeless.
On 24 February 2016, 19 women in the Dedza District of Malawi were arrested and fined. They were charged with living off the avails of prostitution. On 8 September 2016, the Zomba High Court ruled that the Dedza Magistrate had no jurisdiction to hear the case and that the arrest of the women was unconstitutional. According to the court, the law was meant to protect sex workers against exploitation. However, the law was being used to arrest, detain, and fine sex workers and this violated their human rights.
On the 18 of October, COSWAS, sex workers and allies held a protest outside the Taipei City Government. Protesters asked for the decriminalisation of sex work, for an end to illegal entrapment practices targeting sex workers, and for the government to stop ignoring sex workers. They are asking for safe and legal places to work.
From 11-15 October, hundreds of Canadian sex workers in nine provinces were subjected to a fifth and final round of sting operations under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) initiative "Operation Northern Spotlight." These sting operations involve police officers booking fake appointments with sex workers to gain access to their work spaces.
The main focus of the Global Fund Board and the NGO Communities Delegations has been the Global Fund’s 5th Voluntary Replenishment, which was held in Montreal, Canada, in September 2016.
In Uganda, commercial sex work is illegal and perceived as immoral and socially unacceptable. As a stigmatised and often criminalised group, sex workers are frequently the victims of human rights abuses, including sexual violence. Historically, the majority of sex workers have lacked adequate access to information about their rights, safe sex, health services, and equality before the law. In turn, this has significant implications for basic safety, the spread of HIV/AIDs, and unwanted pregnancies.
Laura Lee has won High Court permission to challenge a new law criminalising clients in Northern Ireland. She will also challenge Ireland's brothel keeping laws.
In 2015, Northern Ireland adopted the “Swedish Model”, which criminalises the clients of sex workers, despite the fact that “independent research by Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice showed that no locally based sex workers surveyed supported criminalising the purchase of sex, with 61 percent believing it would make them less safe and 85 per cent saying it would not reduce sex trafficking.”
The Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) in collaboration with the Vietnam Sex Workers Network (VNSW) organised a training from the 22-24 August in Hanoi, Vietnam on the Global Fund. Seventeen sex workers representing 12 sex worker-led organisations from across the nation attended the training.
The Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) facilitated a 3-day training in Kathmandu, Nepal from the 21-23 of September. Twenty-three male, female, and transgender sex workers from attended the workshop across the nation. Sex worker participants represented JMMS, Nepal’s National Federation of Female Sex Workers; and Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s national GLBTIQ representative network.
“It’s my first time in the academy and it has really opened my eyes as far as sex worker advocacy and movement is concerned,” said Precious Zuzu.
Zuzu, who is from Swaziland’s Family Life Association, was among 18 participants from Swaziland, Cameroon and Kenya who were selected to attend the 10th Sex Worker Africa Academy (SWAA).