The late-August attack on the Madaripur red light district in Dhaka, Bangladesh, made up to five hundred sex workers homeless and destroyed their workplaces. It has now emerged that sex workers were refused vital hospital treatment in the aftermath of the attacks.
Regional updates: Asia and the Pacific
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Regional Board Members
Sherry Sherqueshaa (Project X), Singapore
The Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) is a sex worker-led network whose members include national sex worker-led networks, sex worker-led organisations and community-based sex work projects representing female, male and transgender sex workers. APNSW was founded in 1994 at the International AIDS Conference in Japan and is based in Bangkok, Thailand.
News articles from Asia and the Pacific region are listed below.
Up to five hundred sex workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, have been left homeless and without work in the last week, as anti-sex worker activists "rampaged" through a two-hundred year old brothel district. Sex worker activists highlighted that these actions are not just those of rogue extremists, but part of a wider pattern of sex worker evictions, where the state permits the land to be bought up for development against the wishes of current residents.
Sex workers gathered from across India in New Delhi last week, for a two-day meeting on the 'protection of dignity and rights of sex workers' organised by the All Indian Network of Sex Workers, as a prelude to the launch of national campaign calling for decriminalisation.
Although migrant sex workers in Thailand are grateful for the concern showed for their well-being they would like to ask people read their report “Hit & Run” rather than the TIP report on Thailand which is again disappointing in so many ways. In brief, the TIP report is very poorly written; there is a complete lack of accountability; it is full of sweeping assumptions and generalizations; conclusions are based on guesswork rather than evidence e.g. “sex tourism may fuel human trafficking - presumably then there is an equal chance that it may not? The chronic problem they have with accurate and credible numbers persists e.g. according to the first TIP report 2001 there were 700,000 people trafficked globally but now the same report claims 27 million people are trafficked. . It is not credible academically and not accessible to migrant communities. The report adds no new or useful information to the previous reports.
As part of the Dutch collaboration Stepping Up, Stepping Out 2 funded by Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NSWP has received funding to support the development of advocacy tools around rights-based economic empowerment for sex workers. The first year of this three year project will focus on documenting the work done by sex worker led groups in Asia Pacific.
NSWP is pleased to announce the appointment of Kaythi Win and Aly Murray as policy consultants to work with APNSW/NSWP members in developing economic empowerment advocacy tools that can be used at national, regional and global levels. They will work with and coordinate teams of local consultants to document good practice examples of rights-based economic empowerment projects by and for sex workers and write up a report on this including case studies. The report will further highlight the damage done to sex workers by forced rehabilitation and exit programmes.
US Supreme Court strikes down Anti-Prostitution pledge
Vindication for VAMP / SANGRAM
22 July 2013 Sangli, Maharashtra
In a victory for sex worker rights across the world, the United States Supreme Court on 20th June 2013, struck down as unconstitutional the legal requirement that organisations receiving US assistance for HIV programs must have an explicit policy opposing `prostitution’. Popularly known as the anti-prostitution pledge, the provision effectively denied financial support to sex work programming in HIV despite widespread scientific and UN consensus that such programming is essential for a successful HIV response.
Adult consensual sex work not in ambit of Section 370: Activists Welcome Move
Delhi 23 March 2013:
Sex workers and Women’s rights activists across India welcome the Government’s move to drop the word `prostitution’ as exploitation from the amended Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code. The new formulation targets sexual exploitation and not adult consensual sex work.
India's Supreme Court (Apex Court) backed a decided not to exclude West Bengal-based NGO Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) and Usha Cooperative from a committee of senior lawyers, NGOs and Government officials, which is constituted in July last year, to suggest measures on sex workers dignity.
The court confirmed the need to get views from the concerned people about whom the committee is formed, after an objection was lodged by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare. They had argued that as these organisations 'openly advocated for the rights of sex workers' that this would make their inclusion contrary to the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act. This was rejected by the Supreme Court.
The delegates at the Sex Worker Freedom Festival welcomed the news. NSWP President Andrew Hunter said, “The Supreme Court of India has reiterated that “right to live with dignity” is a Constitutional right. This would help our struggle worldwide to go a long way ahead.”
Read more on this story in The Sunday Indian.
Read the review of Prabha Kotiswaran’s “Dangerous Sex, Invisible Labor: Sex Work and the Law in India” By Chaitanya Lakkimsetti at Rightswork.org. This new book dispels this myth of sex workers as predominantly trafficked and as quintessential victims of violence.