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.
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.
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.
The closing, and reopening, of brothels and red light districts in Indonesia has been happening for many years. Several brothel areas were closed in high profile operations across the country in 2015. A closure in Papua was attended by the national Minister for Social Affairs as she launched a “national anti-prostitution movement.”
Seventeen representatives of sex worker organisations in South Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe took part in a training workshop organised by the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) in Siem Reap, Cambodia from 5-10 December, 2015. The workshop was part of series designed specifically for sex workers, to build the knowledge and ability of NSWP members to engage and work with The Global Fund mechanisms in their countries.