Press Release - Sex Worker Freedom Festival

Source (institute/publication)

Kolkata, 19 July 2012: With over 550 representatives of Sex Workers Collectives from across the world arriving for the first-ever Global Hub of the International AIDS Conference hosted and co-hosted by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, Global Network of Sex Workers (NWSP) and All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW) respectively, “the time has come to deliberate the many violations and privations the sex workers community is facing in different parts of the world” stated Dr Jana, the chair. “This Conference which has been, for the last 25 years, a three-way dialogue between the scientists/planners, the people living with HIV and the most at risk communities has been thwarted for the first time by the U.S. Government,” he added.

Andrew Hunter, the President of NWSP, the Global Sex Workers Network said, “with the US now leading the fight for Lesbian, Gay and transgender equality we are extremely disappointed that they refuse to revise their restrictions on sex workers and refuse to recognise that we are human beings with basic rights.”

Ruth Morgan Thomas, the Global Coordinator of NSWP said “it is essential that sex workers be able to self organise in order to stop the AIDS epidemic and yet again the US Government prohibits funds being given to sex worker organisations, the most effective HIV prevention strategy, through the anti-prostitution pledge included in all donor contracts.”

Affirming this, M Bhagyalakshmi, president of the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW) stated that “the 5-day Global Hub will deliberate on the “Seven Freedoms” –the right to move, work, access to healthcare, participate, organise, be free of violence and discrimination - without which the community of sex workers cannot reduce their vulnerability to HIV.”

“The Sex Workers will strive to release the Kolkata Declaration which will be a platform that enables us to reclaim the rights that are due to us,” she added.