raids and evictions
December saw another raid on a sex workers’ workplace in Tel Aviv, with 11 people arrested on charges of running a ‘prostitution ring'. The raids targeted a number of workplaces around the city’s old central bus station.
A spa and sauna house used by gay men in Jakarta has become the latest target of an ongoing police crackdown against sex workers and the LGBT community in Indonesia. On 6 October 2017, 51 men were arrested and detained, with media reporting that some could face up to six years in prison under pornography and sex work laws.
Agape International Missions (AIM), a US-based charity that operates brothel raids and ‘rehabilitation’ programmes in Cambodia, was almost forced to leave Cambodia and cease operations this summer, after a CNN news report on trafficking that featured AIM angered Cambodian citizens and high-level government officials, including the Prime Minister.
The news report, “Life after trafficking: The Cambodian girls sold for sex by their mothers,” originally released on 22 July 2017, quickly drew criticism from the public and Cambodian government for misrepresenting the problem of trafficking in Cambodia, and defaming Cambodian women and mothers in general to raise funds.
A Swedish NGO, Love and Hope (formerly LoveNepal) in Nepal collected donations from Swedish people based on false claims of “saving children from brothels” and posting photographs on social media of three girls they claimed to be sex workers.
NSWP member organisation Project X have urged people to “scrutinise and seriously question the visual representation of sex workers in Singaporean mainstream media.” The call comes following several high profile raids on sex workers' workplaces in recent months, and subsequent stigmatising media coverage of the events. In a post on their Facebook page, Project X describe the media coverage as a “method of shaming” which “not only dehumanises the women in question, it also turns the matter into a one-sided conversation in which sex workers are ridiculed, talked about and talked at.”
Recently, the Tanzanian government arrested 500 suspected sex workers alongside an estimated 300 alleged clients in a police sweep that took place in March 2017. In the months of March and June 2016, sex worker communities experienced major arrests and harassment. 1,168 sex workers in various hotspots in Tanzania were imprisoned by the state.
Sex workers in South Korea are fighting an eviction project supported by a local council. This project will push sex workers out of their work places. It has been reported that Cheongnyangni is now being targeted as part of a “long-term trend in which visible signs of vice are being scrubbed from the capitals streets ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, a mountainous area a few hours northeast of Seoul.” Sex workers in various countries have often be targeted in so called ‘city clean ups’ by governments hosting Olympic Games.
VNExpress has reported that authorities in Hanoi, Vietnam are planning their ‘biggest crackdown ever’ for 2017. The city is aiming to meet a quota of 500 charges this year. They want to avoid repeat offenders being charged and provide financial assistance to help sex workers find new jobs.