Empower Thailand and the Thai Embassy in Sweden have both issued statements in response to the Swedish magazine OTTAR. On the 3rd of March 2016, OTTAR published an interview with Kasja Ekis Ekman, which referred to Thai sex workers as “cheap pussy.”
Regional updates: Asia and the Pacific
A session called “Reclaiming Rights: Sex Workers Speak” was held on the first day of the 12th International Conference on AIDS in the Asia Pacific (ICAAP) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The conference ran from the 12 -14 of March.
Sex Workers in West Bengal are using the upcoming election to remind politicians they need to keep their promises. Sex workers may exercise the ‘none of the above option’ (NOTA) on ballots to tell politicians that they are not happy with them. Many politicians have not shown commitment to taking action on the demands of sex worker-led organisations, as reported by The Statesman.
Members from five Pacific countries met with the APNSW Secretariat in November 2015. Representatives from Friends Frangipani (Papua New Guinea), New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC), Survivors Advocacy Network (SAN-Fiji), Scarlet Alliance (Australia) and $carlet Timor Collective (Timor-Leste) took part in the meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Yesterday, the Constitutional Court in South Korea ruled 6 to 3 to reject a petition to overturn the ‘Anti-Sex Trade Laws’. The laws state that anyone found guilty of buying or selling sex will face up to one year in prison or be fined up to 3 million Won (approximately 2,300 EURO or 2,600 USD).
On the 3rd of March, International Sex Worker's Rights Day, sex workers across India gathered to ask that their human rights be respected.
Members of the All India Network of Sex Workers asked for understanding and respect of sex workers from government and civil society. Their campaign called for workers’ rights, a society free from discrimination and violence, an understanding of the difference between trafficking and sex work, inclusion in policy making processes and the decriminalisation of sex work.
On the 29th of February 2016, five thousand police, army and local security were sent with bulldozers to demolish the area known as Kalijodo in Jakarta.
Kalijodo was known as one of the city’s oldest red-light districts. There were over three thousand residents evicted prior to demolition. There were over 300 sex workers working in Kalijodo, and almost half of the residents also worked in the area.
CJ Palmer, a trans woman and sex worker living with HIV, was recently arrested in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW). Coverage of this case in the media has been stigmatising, with many reports including her birth name, working name and photographs.
State police services from Western Australia and New South Whales arrested CJ in NSW. She was then sent to Western Australia (WA) to face charges of “grievous bodily harm” in relation to allegations of HIV transmission.
Fourteen sex workers were arrested on the 24th of January in Cambodia, and taken to the infamous ‘rehabilitation’ centre known locally as Prey Speu.
This makes a total of 289 sex workers arrested in the last 13 months, according to the Cambodian sex workers’ union Women’s Network for Unity (WNU). These are only the cases WNU have been able to document. “Many others have been routinely arrested that we can’t capture in our outreach and program activities”, says WNUs’ Managing Director Samara Shehata.