Sixty-five sex workers were arrested on Thursday 19th November in Kisii County, Kenya. The following day, the sex workers were taken to Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital and tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The leading officer from the Kisii Governor’s Office, Mr. Patrick Lumumba, stated there were too many sex workers loitering the streets of Kisii, “spreading HIV and STIs to married men”.
The Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) stands by Human Rights Defender Alejandra Gil and Amnesty International’s decision to adopt a policy to protect the human rights of sex workers, including the full decriminalisation of sex work.
The Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) would like to take this opportunity to express our support for Amnesty International’s Resolution and draft policy calling for the decriminalisation of sex work, tabled for adoption at the International Council Meeting, 6-11th August 2015. This draft policy is backed up by the findings of country-based research carried out by Amnesty International on the human rights impact of the criminalisation of sex work, and also on the consultation in 2014, which included input from many sex workers around the world – the community most affected by the proposals.
NSWP would also like to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the CATW statement, open letter and online petition attacking Amnesty International's proposals. CATW’s position is stigmatising, discriminatory and misrepresents the facts, conflating sex work with human trafficking. Most importantly it ignores the lived experiences of sex workers, silences their voices and seeks to perpetuate legal systems which place sex workers at increased risk of violence, stigmatisation, and discrimination; as well as limiting their access to health and social services. Furthermore, CATW is ignoring the overwhelming body of evidence and the findings of international bodies such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, who recommend that governments should work towards the decriminalisation of sex work and The Lancet which recently published a special series on HIV and Sex Workers, which also recommends the decriminalisation of sex work and reported “Decriminalisation of sex work would have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings, averting 33–46% of HIV infections in the next decade.”