Launched in 2012, ‘The HIV and Sex Work Collection: Innovative Responses in Asia and the Pacific’ is a collection of case studies highlighting the work undertaken by sex worker-led community based organisations and networks in undertaking HIV related advocacy efforts. The collection, which was the result of a collaboration between UNFPA, UNAIDS and the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), specifically focuses on 11 APNSW member organisations from across a diverse range of countries within the Asia and Pacific region, including Myanmar, India, China, Thailand, Nepal and Fiji.
History of the Sex Worker Rights Movement
The inaugural Robert Carr Research Award was presented to a consortium of 6 partners who collaborated on producing the research report, ‘The Rights(s) Evidence: Sex Work, Violence and HIV’. The multi-country qualitative study, which was instigated in 2011, involved a partnership between the Asia and Pacific Regional Offices of 3 United Nations agencies, (UNAIDS, UNFPA and UNDP), the Asia and Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), the Center for Advocacy on Stigma and Marginalisation (CASAM),and Partners for Prevention (P4P).
In 2012, Thailand’s national women’s sex worker organisation, the EMPOWER Foundation, released ‘Hit and Run: the Impact Anti-trafficking Policy and Practise on Sex Workers’ Human Rights in Thailand’, a research study undertaken by sex workers identifying as both Thai nationals and migrants.
Implemented by a New Zealand Act of Parliament on 25 June, 2003, the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 resulted in the introduction of a legislative model decriminalising sex work. New Zealand became the first country in the world to decriminalise sex work.
In 1995, sex work in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) was decriminalised. Sex workers and our allies were active in leading the law reform efforts.
In 2010, a media-savvy Sydney-based trans*sex worker and community activist, Norrie May-Welby, initiated court proceedings against the New South Wales (NSW) Government Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to have their gender recognised as ‘non-specific’ on official documents.
Instigated by the EMPOWER Foundation, the national women’s sex worker network of Thailand, 30 sex workers representatives from 8 of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), convened in Phnom Phen, Cambodia, 12 - 16 November, 2012, as part of the first Sex Workers of ASEAN (SW-ASEAN) Summit.
Self-disclosed HIV positive Cambodian trans* sex worker, Sou Sotheavy, was awarded the 2014 David Kato Vision and Voice Award for the activism she has undertaken over the past 3 decades in advocating for the rights of sex workers and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans*, Intersex and Queer (GLBTIQ) communities.
Thailand’s national network for women sex workers, the EMPOWER Foundation, was awarded the 2008 Red Ribbon Award by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The UN laurel, which is presented every 2 years to 25 international organizations that example dedication and community leadership in addressing issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, announced the EMPOWER Foundation as one of its recipients on 10 June, 2008.