The Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) received funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support the development of advocacy tools around rights-based economic empowerment for sex workers. The first year of this three-year project was coordinated by the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), whose office is in Bangkok, Thailand. Over the last 20 years, with the catalyst of HIV decimating our ranks, India and Southeast Asia have been home to some of the most progressive sex worker-led networks in the world. We advocate and struggle for self-determination and equal rights in work and life, as documented here.
For this project, NSWP worked with APNSW members to:
- develop background material for advocacy tools that will strengthen regional networks and member organisations’ work; campaign for the rights of sex workers of all genders; and amplify the voices of sex workers globally;
- document good practice examples of sex worker-led economic empowerment projects (described in the case studies) to inform the development of advocacy tools that will help sex worker-led groups’ ability to engage effectively with policy makers and programmers;
- document the lived experiences of sex workers and the impact of programmes that focus on ‘rehabilitation’, that require sex workers to exit sex work (see the accompanying Briefing Paper).
This report focuses in detail on two key good practice studies: the Usha banking cooperative originating in the Sonagachi sex work area of Kolkata, India, and the informal school and community legal services at WNU in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. These are followed by seven other studies (AMA, VAMP, OP SI, Melati Support Group, SWING, Can Do Bar and APN SW) and field research with sex workers and NGO s across the region.
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