In September 2014, five sex workers who graduated from the Sex Worker Academy Africa (SWAA) returned to Zimbabwe and used what they had learned at SWAA to start Pow Wow: a sex worker-led movement in Zimbabwe.
Our members are local, national and regional sex worker organisations and networks, across five regions: Africa; Asia Pacific; Europe (including Eastern Europe and Central Asia); Latin America; and North America and the Caribbean.
Featured member profiles highlight the work of NSWP’s member organisations around the world. The profiles are written by our regional correspondents.
Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association, is a national organisation focused on issues concerning sex workers in Australia. NSWP interviewed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Scarlet Alliance, Jules Kim and Paco, the elected Male Sex Worker Representative to find out more about the work of the organisation.
PLAPERTS is an NSWP member and the regional platform for Latin America. When spelled out, the acronym stands for “Plataforma Latinoamericana de Personas que ejercen el Trabajo Sexual”, which means “Latin American Platform of People who do Sex Work.”
Which countries and/or regions PLAPERTS focused on?
PLAPERTS has members in 7 countries in Latin America including Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, México, and Brazil.
What is the history of PLAPERTS? How and why was it formed?
KESWA is the umbrella organisation of the Kenyan sex worker-led groups based in Nairobi. The organisations include: Health Options for Young Men on HIV, AIDS and STIs (HOYMAS), Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP), Warembo Sasa, Survivors (Busia), Coast Sex Workers Alliance (COSWA), Eldoret Sex Workers Alliance (ESWA), Kisumu Sex Workers Alliance (KISWA), Coast Hostess, Smart Ladies Nakuru, Laikipia Peer Educators, SWOP Ambassadors, EMAC, Sisters of Majengo, and Links to Smile.
St James Infirmary is a sex worker-led organisation in the United States providing physical and mental health services to sex workers. Since the organisation was formed in 1999 they have been providing free care to current and former sex workers, their partners and adolescent children.
All-Ukrainian charitable organisation “Legalife-Ukraine” is based in Kropyvnytskyi (formerly Kirovograd), Ukraine.
Horizontes Diversos is an NSWP Member based in Manta, Ecuador. The are an entirely unfunded and volunteer-run organisation. Their focus used to be on providing resources solely transgender people, regardless of their involvement in sex work, but now their focus is more diverse. “We provide services to straight sex workers, gay boys, people working in bars - anyone - and our focus is on education and addressing human rights violations in Manta,” said Chavica Moreira, the director of Horizontes Diversos.
Since its inception in 1996, The Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP) has taken a rights-based approach to sex worker organising. Prior to VAMP’s existence, Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha (SANGRAM) had been running the peer intervention program with sex workers, and SANGRAM went on to support sex workers with resources and training to develop the collective.
Which countries and/or regions does the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) focus on?
The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) is based in New Zealand. The National Coordinator, Catherine Healy, told NSWP that their advocacy work is often international, given interest in the New Zealand model on the decriminalisation of sex work. Many delegations visit NZPC to find out more about sex work in New Zealand and to learn more about the decriminalisation of sex work.
Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) is a sex worker-led organisation that includes sex workers, women who have sex with women (WSW), women who use drugs and bar hostesses in Kenya. Founded in 1998, the organisation serves as a common voice in efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination, while engaging various stakeholders in advocacy and policy dialogue. It is the first and oldest sex worker-led organisation in Kenya.
PARCES NGO is a sex worker-led organisation in Bogotá, Colombia. “The main purpose of the organisation is to identify the different forms of discrimination experienced by sex workers and fight oppression and violence against sex workers, LGBT people, trans women, drug users and panhandlers,” said Sebastian Laz Sanchez from PARCES.
PARCES firmly believes that the police, citizens and all state institutions must respect sex workers. Sex workers in Colombia are criminalised and sex workers often experience violence at the hands of the police. Health institutions deny service to sex workers, and the mass media presents sex workers in a way that reproduces stigma against sex workers.
Miriam Edwards is the Executive Director and founding member of the Guyana Sex Work Coalition (GSWC) and co-chair of the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition. The GSWC is “a network of groups and individuals living in Guyana that are engaged in sex work” and which embraces “female, male and trans sex workers from both urban and rural communities whose work may be street-based, hotel/motel-based, or brothel-based.”
History of Project X- Singapore
The Association of Female Sex Workers, "Colectivo Flor de Azálea," was formally created on the 14th of February, 2002 in Machala, Ecuador. Their goal is to provide sex workers with the tools to organise and empower themselves in order to stop the stigma, violence, and discrimination they face.
Silver Rose is a sex worker-led organisation and member of NSWP, representing sex workers and their allies. They bring together the leaders of the sex work community and their supporters. “We know what the problems of our community are and what are the solutions in the context of human rights and prevention of socially relevant diseases,” as stated on the Silver Rose website.
Silver Rose has members in more than 40 cities in Russia including: Kaliningrad, Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Vladivostok, Ufa, Kazan, Nalchik, Ekaterinburg.
The HIV/AIDS Research and Welfare Centre (HARC) works with sex workers across Bangladesh who are active in hotels and residences. HARC has around 2500 members, all female sex workers.
Josiane Tety Prunelle (photographed above) works for Bléty, a non-governmental sex worker-led organisation that was founded in Abidjan, the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. In the local language, Bléty means ‘hope’.
Josiane described herself as an activist for sex workers’ rights. The photograph of her above signifies a lot to her. She said, “I am looking out at the horizon, which represents a world of hope that the life and living conditions of sex workers will get better someday.”
Which countries and/or regions is your organization focused on in terms of mobilizing support for the work that you do?
Aye Myanmar Association (AMA) is a countrywide network of sex workers, working in seven state divisions in Myanmar, including secondary and capital cities like Yangon, Mandalay, Bago Meikhtilar and Pyay.
The Sex Workers' Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) is the regional network of sex work organisations in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This interview with the SWAN Programme Officer focuses on the history, work and challenges of the SWAN network.
NSWP Canadian member group Butterfly – Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network state “Sex Workers’ Rights and Migrants Rights are Human Rights”. This summarises the unique cross-section of priorities and challenges that this young and active group works on. This profile and interview with founder Elene Lam outlines Butterfly's history, work and challenges.