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Fancy picking Cheryl’s brains?

This month, AIDSLEX will host an “Ask the Expert” session on sex work with our very own Cheryl Overs and Valerie Scott (pictured). They will respond to user questions on the human rights of sex workers and on how laws can support efforts to respond to the HIV epidemic, including providing HIV prevention and health care services to sex workers. Users are also invited to pose questions concerning an Ontario court ruling in September 2010 in which sections of Canada’s Criminal Code related to sex work were deemed unconstitutional.

To submit a question, please write to experts@aidslex.org. Deadline is 15 November.

Cheryl Overs is a noted advocate for the rights of sex workers and has written widely on the subject. Valerie Scott is Executive Director of Sex Professionals of Canada (http://www.spoc.ca/), which campaigns for the rights of sex workers. She was one of the applicants in the Ontario Superior Court case. More information on that ruling can be found at http://aidslaw.ca/publications/interfaces/downloadDocumentFile.php?ref=1096.

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04/11/2010 at 11:29 2 comments

VAMP’s response to “Prostitutes of God”

by Kate Hawkins

Last Monday, the UK Independent newspaper published a story about a new film called “Prostitutes of God” as one of its main online news stories. Made by a former Independent journalist, the film for VBS TV, is a sensationalist view through very western eyes of the devadasi system – which is equated with pimping, trafficking and abuse.

Within hours, sex workers in Sangli had begun watching the film, which was serialised in parts on the Internet over the course of the week. They were furious at the way they were portrayed, at the ethics of the film-maker, and of the misrepresentation of their lives and their religion. Their collective, VAMP, sent their community media unit out to film responses to the film.

This brief (3.5) minute clip is VAMP’s response to “Prostitutes of God”.

http://www.youtube.com/v/16OGyssJTvo?fs=1&hl=el_GR

VAMP present their incisive views about sex work; religion and faith; livelihoods; issues of consent; ethics and cross-cultural sensitivities while making documentary films.

In the age of the Internet, people who used to be the objects of white people’s gaze with no right of reply now have access to the representations that are made of them, and the technological means to answer back. A westerner may seize the headlines, but there’s now scope for there to be a debate and to bring those who in the past would have remained voiceless victims into that debate to represent themselves. It is a great opportunity to put the record straight.

This clip has been produced by Sangli Talkies, the newly-launched video unit of SANGRAM / VAMP. Watch it on you tube!

28/09/2010 at 07:38 1 comment

Evaluation of AVAHAN, HIV prevention in India

Text taken directly from Avahan…

Avahan, the India AIDS Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was begun in 2003 with the National AIDS Control Program and other donors to curtail the spread of HIV in India. In the first five years, Avahan designed and operated its programs in six states in India (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Nagaland and Manipur), which have a combined population of 300 million people. At the end of the first five years  Avahan  provided prevention services to nearly 220,000 female sex workers, 80,000 high-risk men who have sex with men and transgenders, and 18,000 injecting drug users, together with 5 million men at risk. 

Emerging evaluation results from this large scale HIV prevention program have just been published in a special peer-reviewed supplement of Sexually Transmitted Infections that can be accessed at http://sti.bmj.com/content/86/Suppl_1.  In the papers you will find  details and measurement issues related to  rate of scale up, costs, quality measures, multiple approaches to condom use, and modeled estimates of infections averted.  All twelve papers and the six accompanying editorials are open access.  (more…)

22/04/2010 at 09:25 1 comment

Now that sounds familiar…40,000 sex workers on the move…again

Our media monitoring over the last week or so has picked up a steadily increasing number of news stories in which it is claimed that 40,000 sex workers will descend on South Africa in response to the increased demand for sexual services from football fans enjoying the World Cup. But where does this figure come from and what does it mean for sex work policy? 

Matt Greenall has picked up this issue on his blog  and, with his permission, I have posted it below. 

40,000 new sex workers for the South Africa world cup? Really? Anatomy of a number

David Bayever of South Africa’s Central Drug Authority’s announcement that the World Cup in South Africa would lead to 40,000 foreign sex workers being brought to South Africa (“many… from Eastern Europe”) has received blanket coverage in the press (http://tinyurl.com/ygpz8wp; http://tinyurl.com/ya35p3k; http://tinyurl.com/yfwfluh).  The only hint of a source for this very high figure is the “event organisers” (in the Telegraph article). 

But it looks like this particular figure wasn’t made up on the hoof by anyone in South Africa.  Try googling “40,000, world cup, prostitute, germany” and you’ll see that exactly the same figure was being given in the run up to the Germany World Cup in 2006 (http://bit.ly/clc6dN; http://bit.ly/c44hgv;  http://bit.ly/aLuhoM), amid accusations that the German government, having legalised prostitution in 2002, was facilitating trafficking and coercion.  (more…)

11/03/2010 at 16:00 Leave a comment

The Curious Sex Workers Guide to attending the 18th International AIDS Conference

The XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010), will be held in Vienna, Austria, from 18 to 23 July 2010. It is a chance to assess where we are, evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward. The conference organisers also see it as an opportunity to highlight the critical connection between human rights and HIV.

In the past the conference has provided a forum to hear about new HIV initiatives for sex workers, participate in campaigning and advocacy for sex workers rights and hear about cutting edge research related to sex work.

In order to help facilitate sex worker involvement the Global Network of Sex Work Projects has produced The Curious Sex Workers Guide to attending the 18th International AIDS Conference. The Guide provides information on:

  • Submitting an abstract
  • Participating in the Global Village
  • Scholarships
  • Travelling to Vienna
  • Getting support for attendance

For further information contact the NSWP IAC 2010 Coordinators Faika El-Nagashi and Veronica Munk on iac@nswp.org.

21/12/2009 at 15:14 Leave a comment

Website launched on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Today is International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers. The Paulo Longo Research Initiative (PLRI) marks this important day with the launch of its new website, www.plri.org.

The PLRI website is a substantial library of resources about sex work in the context of economics, law, health, gender and sexuality, and migration. As it grows the site will increasingly showcase important research findings, host discussions among academics and sex workers and provide text and video news about relevant events and publications. The site will provide health service providers, policy makers, social workers, human rights advocates and students invaluable opportunities to learn about issues that affect sex workers.

December 17 provides an opportunity to reflect on why research is needed to provide evidence to guide measures to protect sex workers from violence and exploitation.  Sex workers from all over the world have long argued that criminal laws against sex work render them vulnerable to abuses, including unprotected sex and lack of access to services and justice. But many countries continue to criminalise sex workers and sex worker organisations everywhere receive frequent reports of violence.

Sex workers all over the world are subject to violence, exploitation and abuse.  For example:

  • USAID research conducted in 2006 in Cambodia found that of the female and transgender sex workers surveyed approximately half were beaten by police; about a third gang-raped by police and about three-quarters were gang-raped by other men during the past year.
  • In Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa Jane Arnott and Anna Louise Crago found that repeated violence, extortion and detention by law enforcement officers leave sex workers feeling constantly under threat in a climate of impunity that fosters further violence and discrimination against sex workers from the community-at-large. Migrants and transgender sex workers are particularly affected.
  • In Pakistan research into sexually transmitted infections by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that HIV services need to be tied in with efforts to reduce discrimination, exploitation and violence against sex workers if they are going to be effective. This includes support programmes designed to increase sex workers’ abilities to defend their own human rights.

The World Health Organisation has recognised clear links between violence and sex workers’ vulnerability to HIV and recently both Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary-General, and Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director, have recommended that laws that punish sex workers be repealed in the light of evidence that they increase HIV vulnerability.

On December 17 sex worker organisations in dozens of countries demand an end to violence. Browse the PLRI website to read about the nature and causes of violence against male, female and transgender sex workers and the successes and failures of efforts to reduce it. Help to promote the site by circulating the press release to your contacts.

17/12/2009 at 10:55 Leave a comment

Latin American Dialogue on Sexuality and Geopolitics

Between August 24th and 26th, 2009, the Latin American Dialogue on Sexuality and Geopolitics took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Organized by Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW) in partnership with the Latin-American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights (CLAM), the meeting gathered close to 50 participants from nine countries — academics, researchers and activists — who debated the conditions of sexual politics in the region.

The session Sexuality and Economics: visibilities and invisibilities featured:

  • Lucila Esquivel, coordinator of the Paraguayan Association of Sex Workers 
  • Ofélia Becerril, professor at the Colégio de Michoacán, in México;
  • Adriana Piscitelli, professor and researcher at the Núcleo de Estudos de gênero PAGU in UNICAMP (Brazil);
  • Maria Elvira Benítez, Anthropology PHD student at the Museu Nacional and program assistant at  the Centro Latino Americano em Sexualidade e Direitos Humanos (CLAM), in Rio de Janeiro; and
  • Bruno Zilli, anthropologist and also researcher at CLAM. 

 Many of the papers presented in this session focussed on sex work and the online overview of this session is an interesting read. The overview paper for the session, Prostitution as economic activity in urban Brazil, was written by Ana Paula Silva, professor at the Centro Universitário Augusto Motta (UNISUAM), in Rio de Janeiro, and Thaddeus Blanchette, professor at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) e also at UNISUAM. You can read a summary of their presentation and the comments that followed from it on the Sexuality Policy Watch website.

14/12/2009 at 19:01 Leave a comment

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