Resources: NSWP Briefing Papers

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This summary of The Needs and Rights of Trans Sex Workers briefing paper focuses on the issues and needs identified by trans sex workers as disclosed in NSWP forums, including an online questionnaire and face-to-face focus groups.

This briefing paper focuses on the issues and needs identified by trans sex workers (TSW) as disclosed in NSWP forums including an online questionnaire and face-to-face focus groups. Attention is first given to the issue of intersectionality, aiming to give context to the community of TSW before examining the needs and rights of this group. Legal situations are then discussed, noting how legislative systems can have an impact on the lives and work of TSW worldwide.

Male sex workers (MSW) constitute a large component of NSWP’s membership and this summary of The Needs and Rights of Male Sex Workers briefing paper aims to go some way in highlighting the needs and rights of this community.

This briefing paper has been developed in line with the NSWP priority to focus on and highlight the needs and rights of male sex workers. This paper presents an overview of some of the main issues faced by male sex workers (MSW) globally and highlights some of the advocacy and activism efforts by male sex worker communities that have challenged these issues. This paper is intended for those who make policy, design and implement programmes, and work directly with MSW in the hope of increasing awareness and understanding of the multiple realities and needs of this community.

NSWP has published a new briefing paper titled ‘Sex Work and the Law: Understanding Legal Frameworks and the Struggle for Sex Work Law Reforms’

This paper aims to frame sex work in terms of labour migration, economics and empowering labour environments, rather than in terms of power, disease and immorality. It discusses policies and programmes affecting sex workers that limit their economic empowerment.

In 2009, 33 million people were living with HIV, 68% of them in Africa. Globally, female sex workers are 13.5% more likely to be living with HIV than the general population (UNAIDS 2013). However, in many places sex workers’ rates of HIV are not known, whether due to insufficient research or due to sex workers’ own reluctance to document it for fear that the response will be to treat them as ‘vectors of disease’, rather than to focus attention on the broader socio-legal context which informs their HIV risk.

Sex workers constitute a key group affected by HIV, with multiple factors contributing to their vulnerability. Around the world, much HIV programming falls short of taking these factors into account and actively working towards their reduction. This failure can only result, at best, in temporary respite which privileges some sex workers over others, rather than serving to empower the sex worker community as a whole, enabling them to work safely and protect themselves.

HIV prevention efforts are being scaled up globally, to target sex workers as a key affected population in the HIV response. The voices and experiences of sex workers living with HIV are too often rendered invisible: this means that the additional needs and rights of sex workers living with HIV are often overlooked in forums that support the rights of general populations of people living with HIV. This paper sets out the demands of positive sex workers articulated by sex workers themselves.

One of the initial advocacy priorities identified by NSWP+ (a platform for positive sex workers and others committed to equal rights for sex workers living with HIV)  was treatment access and joining the campaign against trade related restrictions and patents used by large pharmaceutical companies to make huge profits from essential medicines.