In their work and lives, sex workers experience disproportionate levels of violence including police abuse, sexual assault, rape, harrassment, extortion, and abuse from clients, agents (pimps), sex establishment owners, intimate partners, local residents, and public authorities. Violence against sex workers is a violation of their human rights, and increases sex workers' vulnerability to HIV.
Evidence suggests that HIV interventions in the sex industry are more effective when sex workers themselves have direct ownership in designing, implementing and monitoring of programmes. This entails moving beyond standard HIV prevention programmes and addressing the overall health - including sexual and reproductive health - and well being needs of sex workers and their clients while, at the same time, respecting fundamental human rights. Sex workers must be recognised as agents of change rather than as 'vectors' of infection and this requires a paradigm shift in the way sex workers are viewed and engaged in the response.
Sex workers are highly mobile populations, moving both within and accross national boundaries, as either documented or undocumented labour. However, labour laws rarely, if ever, offer protection and benefits to local or migrant sex workers. Migration and mobility factors that can significantly increase the vulnerability of sex workers to HIV and sexually transmitted infections, in large part due to their undocumented status including lack of work permits, poor working conditions in some cases, lack of access to health care, occupational health and safety standards, and other forms of labour protection.
Governments and the United Nations have recognised the need to address the legal and policy barriers and stigma and discrimination faced by sex workers in order to respond to the HIV epidemic. In many countries, laws, policies and practices against sex workers limit their right to basic social economic rights such as access to education, health care, housing, banking facilities, inheritance, property and legal services. They may also lack citizenship or legal status, resulting from migration or unfavourable regulations, which can lead to exclusion of sex workers from health services, social programmes and communities.
This report summarises the deliberations of a one day event entitled “Labour of Love” held on 17th December 2010, hosted by Women’s Organization Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA) in partnership with Uganda Harmonized Rights Alliance (UHRA). The event primarily sought to put a human face to the lives of sex workers as well as challenge the public silence on violence against them. The forum was attended by 55 participants, including sex workers, brothel owners and human rights activists. The event was organised against the background that sex workers have continuously suffered from abuse, discrimination and violence which often goes unreported and unacknowledged. In particular, the event illuminated the achievements, coping mechanisms, challenges and recommendations regarding sex work.
Short report in English of the work of the UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work during 2010.
Breve informe en español de la labor del Grupo Asesor del ONUSIDA sobre el VIH y el trabajo sexual durante 2010.
Short report in French of the work of the UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work during 2010.
Includes information on:
2010 workplan and achievements, feedback from survey of members and future plans.
You can download this 2 page PDF resource above. This resource is in French.
This is the Plain English version of the Note for Record of the June 2010 UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work.
This is the English version of the Note for Record of the June 2010 UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work.