Asia and the Pacific

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Crackdowns on Sex Work and LGBT Community in Indonesia Impede HIV Service Access

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.

Rescue Organisation in Cambodia Draws Government Criticism

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.

Swedish NGO Under Investigation for Creating Fake 'Rescue' Stories to Solicit Donations

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.

Reflections on Reporting to the CEDAW Committee by Empower Thailand

This report by Empower Foundation Thailand describes the organisation’s experience submitting a shadow report to and attending the CEDAW committee’s 67th session in Summer, 2017.  The report includes detailed information on all stages of Empower’s engagement with CEDAW, including their goals for engagement, drafting their report, and participating in formal and informal CEDAW sessions in Geneva.

Empower Thailand CEDAW Shadow Report

Empower Foundation Thailand submitted this shadow report to the 67th CEDAW session, which took place in July 2017. The report focuses on raids against entertainment industry establishments, which are perpetuated by the conflation of sex work and trafficking. The report details entrapment and police violence during raids, as well as lack of access to a fair trial, labour protections, and health for Thai sex workers. A detailed report on their experiences engaging with the CEDAW committee is also available here.

Twelve Sex Workers Escaped from Ujjwala House in Hyderabad India

Twelve sex workers escaped from Ujjwala House in Hyderabad India, where they had been detained for months following a raid on their workplaces. Thirty-two women are housed in the so called shelter, which claims to "rehabilitate" and "rescue" sex workers.

Chinese Government to Crackdown on VPNs and Livestreaming Websites

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.

Usha Cooperative Bank in India Alarmed at Introduction of GST on Sanitary Napkins in India

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.

Raids in Singapore and Condoms Being Used as Evidence

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.”