It has been almost two years since the offices of Rentboy were raided by the New York Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security on 25 August, 2015. Six employees were arrested alongside CEO Jeffrey Hurant, but changes against every except Hurant were dropped after a the case became the subject of national attention with condemnation coming from LGBT and Human Rights organisations such as Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch.
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.
On 25 May, 2017, NSWP members Red Umbrella Athens (Greece) and Hellenic Association of People Living with HIV “Positive Voice” organised a conference on policy issues regarding sex work in Greece. It was very successful. It was the first time this topic was discussed by representatives from the government, political parties, civil society, sex workers and the scientific community.
The Global Fund is leaving Macedonia this year in June. It means that most of the services will be closed or reduced to a minimum if the government does not provide financial support. NSWP member Healthy Options Project Skopje (HOPS) started a campaign for securing sustainability of harm reduction programmes in Macedonia through various activities including a petition, meetings with Ministry of Health, press conferences, social media campaign, a video. The key focus is harm reduction programmes for people who use drugs, but they also include sex workers, MSM, and PLWHA.
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.
Sex work is illegal in South Africa. Sex work is criminalised in the Criminal Code, and municipal by-laws also contain provisions that prohibit sex work such as “importuning any person for the purpose of prostitution” and “soliciting”. Sex workers have very little legal protection.
In the state of Alaska in the United States, a legal battle over the right of police officers to engage in sexual conduct with sex workers before arresting them is bringing public attention to a national issue. Two bills HB112/SB73 introduced earlier this year would add an addendum to expand the definition of sexual assault to include instances of “peace officers” engaging in sexual conduct or penetration with a perpetrator that they are in the process of investigating.
Many Latin American sex workers groups came to Cancún, Mexico to join the Organization of American States (OAS) 47th General Assembly from 19 - 21 of June. The Theme of the General Assembly was “Strengthening Dialogue and Concertation for Prosperity.” At the event there were speeches and several panels demanding the acceptance of sex work as work, removal of the laws that criminalise sex work and endangering the life, health, and safety of sex workers, and insistance on the importance of taking measures to ensure that the human rights, safety and dignity of sex workers are respected, protected, and guaranteed.
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.”
The building at the entrance to Melbourne University, Australia, will no longer bear the name of its condemned former head of anatomy, and Dean of Medicine, Richard Berry. Berry actively lobbied for the "sterilisation, segregation and the lethal chamber" of sex workers, Indigenous peoples, and other marginalised people who he claimed to be of "rotten heredity." The renaming of the building is the result of long-standing campaign by a group of staff and students.
Karnataka Sex Workers Union held protests and spoke out about recent attempts to conduct invasive unethical research on sex workers, without proper community involvement. In a press release issued on 18 March, 2017 entitled “Sex Workers don’t need sympathy! Sex workers need workers rights!!” the Union spoke about the various ways the research report in question “violates research methodologies, research ethics and several national and international protocols/guidelines.”
Three men who attacked Kemal Ördek (LGBTI activist and Chair of Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association) were sentenced to 7 years and 6 months imprisonment for attempted robbery.
Recently, the Tanzanian government arrested 500 suspected sex workers alongside an estimated 300 alleged clients in a police sweep that took place in March 2017. In the months of March and June 2016, sex worker communities experienced major arrests and harassment. 1,168 sex workers in various hotspots in Tanzania were imprisoned by the state.
Sex Workers in the Australian state of South Australia (SA) have welcomed a Select Committee Report recommending the Statutes Amendment (Decriminalisation of Sex Work) Bill 2015 be passed without amendment. The Bill seeks to amend various pieces of legislation to decriminalise sex work, to prohibit discrimination against people who are or have worked as sex workers, to allow for certain convictions to be spent, and to provide sex workers with the same rights and protections as other workers.
Transition remains a big issue and is critical for sex workers in countries who will not be eligible for funding through the Global Fund in the future.
In order to improve working conditions of sex workers, the Amsterdam mayor opened a brothel that is supposed to be managed by sex workers. The new brothel, called My Red Light, occupies 14 “windows” across four buildings in Amsterdam’s red light district. About 40 sex workers will be able to operate out of the premises, which are being run by a foundation called My Red Light.
NSWP shares The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF)’s deep concern about the Trump Administration’s proposed 1.08 billion cut to global HIV programmes. According to MSMGF’s statement here, “vital programming for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men around the world will be slashed if the President’s proposed budget released earlier this week is approved.” Cuts to funding will also impact other key populations including sex workers, transgender people, and people who use drugs.
The 19 May is the start of the bi-annual San Francisco Bay Area Sex Worker Film and Arts Fest (SWFAF) taking place across San Francisco and Oakland, California. SWFAF was started in 1999 by Carol Leigh, also known as Scarlot Harlot. She is a film maker, archivist and activist who coined the term 'sex work' during a conference in 1979 or 1980 as an alternative to the phrase 'Sex Use Industry'. She wanted to place emphasis on the agency of the provider rather than the customer, and the term has become broadly used across the globe.
In October 2016, Triple X and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DPLHS) collaborated to hold a convening in Toronto, Canada, bringing together 50 sex workers and health providers from all across the country to discuss concerns and share information regarding the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) - a once daily pill that is prescribed to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women has published issue 8 of the Anti-Trafficking Review 'Where's the Evidence?'. This issue "explores the role of evidence, research and data in anti-trafficking work and how they influence our understanding of trafficking and responses to it. Seven thematic articles and four debates examine the evidence that is used - or rejected - in the formation of national anti-trafficking policies, as well as the role of monitoring and evaluation and statistics."
Sex workers in Kenya’s coastal town of Mombasa have urged the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the murder of one of their colleagues in a hotel last month. During a peaceful demonstration in protest to the growing number of killings of sex workers in the area, the sex workers urged the police to act swiftly.