This Statement on the Occasion of the if the UN General Assembly 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS by the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV & Human Rights contributes to the ongoing negotiations around the political declaration that will be adopted by the UN General Assembly on the 8-10 of June, 2016. The UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights offers a number of recommendations to Member States for the 2016 Political Declaration.
“If access to health care is considered a human right, who is considered human enough to have that right?” – Dr. Paul Farmer
We often say that words hold power, and as such they have to be carefully considered. On some occasions, this is truer than on others, and this is one of those occasions. World leaders, government representatives, HIV programme implementers and civil society organizations are currently preparing for the 2016 United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS. They should be focusing on the future of the AIDS response. Instead, there have been intense negotiations on which words should be used to describe the global agenda during the next 5-year period.
NSWP welcomes Amnesty International’s Policy on State Obligations to Respect, Protect, and Fulfill the Human Rights of Sex Workers. Amnesty International calls for the decriminalisation of all aspects of adult consensual sex work including all laws which criminalise sex workers, clients, and third parties. Amnesty International also calls for the end of the discriminatory enforcement of other laws against sex workers, such as vagrancy, loitering, and immigration requirements.
NSWP wishes to clarify a number of issues in the light of some recent media coverage on the subject of the decriminalisation of sex work. Several articles have appeared recently that have made some alarmist and extremely misleading statements in response to an original article in the New York Times Magazine (published 5th May 2016).
As a sex worker-led global network with 262 member organisations across 77 countries from Africa, Asia Pacific, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and North America, representing tens of thousands of sex workers from diverse cultures and experiences, NSWP has a fundamental right to be involved in consultations around international and national policies that impact on sex workers’ lives and work. Attempting to silence sex workers by denying our agency and calling us pimps, traffickers and industry lobbyists is unacceptable.
The sex workers’ rights movement is committed to the full decriminalisation of sex work in the belief that it will help sex workers organise to eliminate exploitation, oppression and violence and address unfair and abusive working conditions instituted by state and non-state actors. Branding the decriminalisation of third parties as an attempt to ‘legalise pimps and brothel keeping’ undermines sex workers in their struggle for labour rights and justice.
This policy brief on the Decriminalisation of Sex Work in Kenya was written in collaborartion with the University of Amsterdam and NSWP member HOYMAS and KESWA. This policy brief argues that sex workers have the same rights as other citizens in Kenya as outlined in the Kenyan Constitution.
The EMPOWER Foundation Thailand report Moving Toward Decent Sex Work and its summary explores the protections offered to Thai sex workers under civil law and the application of other labour mechanisms to sex work. It provides an overview of the Thai sex industry and argues that to develop a reform process, people must hear how exploitation is defined and experienced by Thai sex workers. Decent Sex Work provides recommendations which are appropriate to prevent and address exploitation in sex work.
The ICRSE Community Report Exploitation: Unfair Labour Arrangements and Precarious Working Conditions in the Sex Industry discusses exploitation in the sex industry, while simultaneously challenging anti-sex work advocates' understanding of sex work as 'sexual exploitation'.
Kenyan sex workers continue to suffer human rights violations. Sex workers also bear a disproportionately large burden of HIV. This could be significantly reduced by a rights-based approach to their health needs. This research by GNP+ focuses on the human rights violations that female sex workers living with HIV face when they access healthcare services. It also highlights violations by law enforcement officers that impact on sex workers’ vulnerability to and ability to manage HIV.
The briefing paper Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for People Who Inject Drugs: Community Voices on Pros, Cons, and Concerns outlines the results of a global consultation by the International Network of People who Use Drugs on PrEP. Approximately 75 people from 33 different countrires participated in the consultation.
This ICRSE briefing paper explores the diverse experiences and realities of LGBT sex workers and the intersection of LGBT rights and sex workers’ rights. It also calls upon the LGBT movement to build an alliance with sex workers and their organisations and actively support sex workers’ rights and the decriminalisation of sex work.
In New Zealand, the Prostitution Reform Act was passed in 2003. Its purpose is to decriminalise prostitution. Following the Act, the Department of Labour, in cooperation with the New Zealand Prostitues Collective (NZPC), developed the Occupational Health & Safety guidelines for the sex industry. This article looks at the development and effects of the New Zealand approach. It was written by members of the NZPC and was published as part of Research for Sex Work 14: Sex Work is Work.
This large, Canadian research explores the perceived control and power within interactions between sex workers and their clients. Sex workers and clients report that most of their interactions are free of conflict and are characterised by relatively symmetrical dynamics of control and power. The ability to negotiate over the terms and conditions of the commercial sexual services offered and sought before meeting in person is linked to workers feeling more control over condom use and feeling more empowered compared to those whose first encounter with clients is face-to-face. This ability to clearly advertise services allows workers to more explicitly state what is and is not being offered so that there is less confusion over expectations, something that most clients appear to appreciate and desire for themselves.
Sex workers are often talked about as facing high rates of violence, significant exposure to STIs, as well as work-related psychological stress. Yet even as sex workers are called ‘at risk’ by researchers and health professionals, their health needs are unaddressed or unknown in many conventional health care settings. Peer-led health services provider Persist researched sex workers' experiences and with health services, as well as and what sex workers themselves wanted.
This article discusses sex worker organising in the United States. It's full title is 'United States Organising: It Is Not Okay to De-Legitimise Sex Work Under Guise of Trafficking and End Demand'. It was written by Cris Sardina of the Desiree Alliance, Penelope Saunders of the Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP) and others from local communities in the US. The article was published as part of Research for Sex Work 14: Sex Work is Work. Contents include:
In 2013, the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs) were launched in New York. These courts were the USA's first statewide human trafficking intervention within a justice system. This research explores the impact of these courts through studying 364 cases in 2013 and 2014. It concludes that the HTICS do not respect the human rights of the people they process and distort the line between consent and coercion. This makes it more difficult for people who are victimised – by clients, ‘pimps’, police, and courts – to seek justice.
This is a Community Guide to the HIV and STI Testing and Treatment Policies briefing paper. It focuses on sex workers' experiences of HIV and STI testing and treatment programmes around the world. Contents include:
This research investigates sex workers’ opinions on support services in Berlin, Germany. In Berlin, support services for sex workers range from financial, health and legal support to psychosocial counselling and support with issues of migration, etc. Most are carried out by social workers at NGOs targeted at sex workers. While some of these NGOs advocate for sex worker rights, many aim to ‘rescue’ sex workers and to abolish sex work. The researcher concludes there is a discrepancy between support services demand and supply. This article was published in Research for Sex Work 14: Sex Work is Work.
These are the final versions of the UNAIDS technical briefs on young key populations and HIV. NSWP has also published the earlier draft versions of these papers like the draft technical brief on HIV and young people who sell sex.
NSWP member Stella produced 9 fact sheets for sex workers in Canada. The fact sheets provide important information about the changes to Canadian law (the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, 2014) that criminalise sex workers, clients, and third parties. The fact sheets offer practical tools for sex workers and explain how the new laws negatively impact sex workers.
This resource outlines the targets, goals, vision and strategies of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). It recommends decriminalisation of sex work as part of an effective HIV response: "The decriminalization of sex work could prevent people from acquiring HIV through combined effects on violence, police harassment, safer work environments and HIV transmission pathways."