Posts tagged ‘sex worker’

Don’t expect Barbados to be legalising prostitution.

Fair treatment for sex workers

Claudette Kay and Miriam Edwards want sex workers in the region to be treated fairly. (Kenmore Bynoe)

Sex workers in the Caribbean want to be treated fairly and given the same respect as other people involved in demanding professions.

Miriam Edwards, president of the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition, Kay Forte of Guyana and Claudette Johnson of Jamaica, as well as Ivan Cruickshank of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition made the call at the closing ceremony of the Sex Work And HIV TechnicalWorking Group meeting put on by UNAIDS.

Edwards says her organisation, which had members in 13 Caribbean countries, is battling for sex workers’ voices to be heard in order for the legal framework to be instituted for such them to obtain the medical and other necessary services.

“We need to accept sex workers as human beings and we want the same level of treatment and service when we come forward as anyone else,” Edwards says. she also warns that it is pointless setting up programmes for a few sex workers and prefacing the offer with the command that they must give up their profession in order to get funding for education or skills training.

The trio later met with Minister of Health Donville Inniss, who had earlier delivered the closing address at the session. “It is not for me to deliberate on the morality or illegality of sex work in the Caribbean, but rather it is for me to face reality. We will not, certainly at the policy level, move ahead if we start by operating with any stigma attached to the issue of sex workers or if we start to bring our own prejudices to the table and bury our heads in the sand and pretend that such a thing does not exist. In addition, the increased risk of HIV transmission which may be found in some informal and formal sex work contexts heightens the need to take definitive steps to reduce the risk of transmission in these settings,” Inniss adds.

BUT  DON”T EXPECT BARBADOS TO BE LEGALISING PROSTITUTION : What the Minister said

By Tracy Moore |

 Minister of Health Donville Inniss stated this on Wednesday at a top-level regional meeting on HIV/AIDS at Hilton Barbados. Inniss said that legalising prostitution in Barbados would not be one of those laws to be modernised on our statute books any time soon. “The issue of legalising prostitution would always be a heated one, filled with emotion and sometimes a lack of objectivity,” he said. “If the goal is for sex workers to have access to health care, systems are already in place that work and allow them access to health care. “When you go to a doctor’s office or a Barbados polyclinic or the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, I do not know that you are discriminated against or that you are denied access to health care if you indicate that you are a sex worker,” he said. He added, “What we may want to debate is the issue of not discriminating against people based on their perceived sexual orientation or perceived sexual practice as a profession. I think we need to be a lot more all-embracing. “That does not mean that we have to drop our moral guards and say that all of these things are to be accepted. I am not promoting homosexuality or prostitution. I am simply saying that we have to have a more open mind and accept that not all of us are the same,” he said.

The two-day meeting was held by the United States-Caribbean Partnership Framework for HIV/AIDS as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR). On the second day of discussions, United States Global AIDS co-ordinator and adviser to President Barack Obama, Ambassador Eric Goosby, told the SATURDAY SUN that accessibility and eliminating stigmatisation were better weapons against HIV/AIDS than legalising prostitution. He said judgement and stigmatisation caused more fear in those who needed access to medical care. Minister of Health Donville Inniss stated this on Wednesday at a top-level regional meeting on HIV/AIDS at Hilton Barbados. Inniss said that legalising prostitution in Barbados would not be one of those laws to be modernised on our statute books any time soon. “The issue of legalising prostitution would always be a heated one, filled with emotion and sometimes a lack of objectivity,” he said. “If the goal is for sex workers to have access to health care, systems are already in place that work and allow them access to health care. “When you go to a doctor’s office or a Barbados polyclinic or the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, I do not know that you are discriminated against or that you are denied access to health care if you indicate that you are a sex worker,” he said. He added, “What we may want to debate is the issue of not discriminating against people based on their perceived sexual orientation or perceived sexual practice as a profession. I think we need to be a lot more all-embracing. “That does not mean that we have to drop our moral guards and say that all of these things are to be accepted. I am not promoting homosexuality or prostitution. I am simply saying that we have to have a more open mind and accept that not all of us are the same,” he said. The two-day meeting was held by the United States-Caribbean Partnership Framework for HIV/AIDS as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR). On the second day of discussions, United States Global AIDS co-ordinator and adviser to President Barack Obama, Ambassador Eric Goosby, told the SATURDAY SUN that accessibility and eliminating stigmatisation were better weapons against HIV/AIDS than legalising prostitution. He said judgement and stigmatisation caused more fear  in those who needed access to medical care.

20/01/2011 at 02:49 Leave a comment

STOP – feminist violence against sex workers

By Leena Neena

“ The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) has been for years delivering a clear political statement committed to work towards a Europe free from prostitution, by supporting key abolitionist principles which state that the prostitution of women and girls constitutes a fundamental violation of women’s human rights, a serious form of male violence against women, and a key obstacle to gender equality in our societies. The EWL Centre on violence against women is now working on an EWL campaign to deliver a strong message towards a Europe free from prostitution.”

It is beyond belief that this kind of campaign can take place in this day and age. How do these people feel when they sit around deciding to do things like this without speaking to sex workers ?  No sex worker, no matter how they  came to the sex industry,   could mistake what this fist means. It means violence. No doubt the euro  feminists fantasise about the punch they are recommending landing on bad men – the fantasy pimps of their imagination –  and helping innocent girl victims who also live in their imaginations. But every sex worker knows that every  punch lands  on her /him no matter what fantasies are in the heads  of the punch throwers.

That this is a group that says it opposes violence is a joke.  These middle class  women who think they know better than us should be made to take responsibility for the violence they advocate. This campaign is what the Americans call ‘ hate speech’  But who will stop it ? Who can raise a voice in the face of the millions of dollars and euros driving violence against sex workers all over the world.

Read anti trafficking superstar Leela Neena’s blog at  http://thisisleelaneena.tumblr.com/

09/11/2010 at 08:44 4 comments

Sex Tourism and Trafficking

By Megan Rivers-Moore

(This is one of a series of weekly columns from Guyanese in the diaspora and others with an interest in issues related to Guyana and the Caribbean)

… [D]iscussion of trafficking, a much talked about but often poorly understood topic, is at the forefront of concerns about migration, labour, and sexuality. A key problem in so many discussions of trafficking was reproduced in an October 15th article in the Stabroek News, titled ‘Sex tourism growing in favoured destinations in Caribbean’, namely, that sex tourism and trafficking are conflated, as if they were one and the same. The Organisation of American States (OAS) co-ordinator of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit in the Department of Public Security, Fernando Garcia-Robles, reportedly noted that several tourist destination countries in the Caribbean have a growing sex tourism industry, and acknowledged “concerns that the Free Movement of Skilled Nationals in Caricom could result in increased human trafficking.”

Tourists travel to the Caribbean for many reasons, including in search of sexual experiences with local people, sometimes explicitly commercial, sometimes a much more ambiguous exchange of gifts, affection, and sex. This complex phenomenon is made possible by a variety of factors, including tourism dependent economies, global inequalities of wealth and mobility, and problematic ideas about the race and sexuality of people in the Caribbean. Sex tourism is not, however, the same as trafficking. Trafficking refers to the use of violence, coercion and exploitation to recruit and transport workers across borders to carry out various kinds of work. Most crucially, trafficking does not just include sex work, but rather all kinds of labour, including domestic and agricultural, for example. Yet trafficking is often simplistically equated with commercial sex and sexual ‘slavery.’

The use of the term ‘slavery’ so loosely should give us pause, as it is a concept fraught with history and emotion, especially in the Caribbean and Latin America, where it calls to mind the brutalities of the middle passage, plantation economies, and the outright ownership of human beings. In fact, the little reliable research that has been done suggests that trafficking more often resembles debt bondage, and unfair and exploitative contact labour. There is of course a long history of these kinds of labour practices in the Caribbean as well, but this is an important distinction in terms of how this work takes place within labour markets and their relationships to the global economy. As last week’s article attests, men, women, boys and girls are all trafficked for many ends to, through, and from the Caribbean region and around the world.

Significant numbers of women are indeed coerced into the sex industry, but the conditions of their lives are similar in many ways to the lives of other migrant women who struggle to get by in a world where racialized and gendered inequalities help to structure a lack of viable options and opportunities. Because of the ways in which trafficking is often mistakenly assumed to mean sexual slavery across border, it is crucial to acknowledge that not all migrant sex workers are trafficking victims. Sex work is often one of many strategies that women engage in for economic survival and advancement. Because few countries classify sex work as work, women tend to migrate in other immigration categories (for example, on tourist or domestic work visas) and then make their way into the sex industry. Others pay smugglers, often agreeing to or finding themselves in situations of debt bondage or indentureship. One of the consequences of seeing migrant women who work in the sex industry as trafficking victims is that concerns about trafficking can be used for immigration control. By conflating trafficking with sexual slavery, women can be ‘saved’ by deporting them. This allows governments to appear benevolent, it deals with xenophobic fears about immigration, but it also conveniently ignores the massive violations of the human and labour rights of sex workers that take place with impunity throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. One wonders, then, about the wisdom of the OAS focusing on strengthening the capacity of law enforcement officials, immigration officers, judges, and prosecutors.

The relationship between sex workers and police has been notoriously difficult in much of the world, and indeed, a great deal of the violence that sex workers face comes from the state. Because of their experiences with state violence, sex workers are not likely to report abuse from clients or management, and most importantly in terms of trafficking, sex workers’ are cautious about voicing their concerns about the use of force or coercion against migrants in the sex industry. This is especially the case when migrant sex workers face deportation upon discovery. These women are unlikely to testify against those who transport undocumented workers, as many trafficking victims who have been ‘saved’ go on to use these same networks in order to cross borders undetected once again. We must pay attention to the broader conditions that make men, women and children vulnerable to smuggling, deception, and coercion in migrating, including the ever increasing demand for cheap, exploitable labour and the dire economic contexts that make precarious and dangerous choices for survival attractive or unavoidable. By defining sex work as a form of labour, alongside other kinds of labour like domestic and agricultural work in which workers potentially face unjust and unsafe working conditions, we can begin to explore ways of addressing these issues without resorting to fear mongering, alarmist and largely unsubstantiated claims about sexual slavery.

06/11/2010 at 18:41 Leave a comment

Legal services for sex workers

Indian courtWhere governance is poor and the rule of law is weak, female, male and transgender sex workers are typically exposed to severe and pervasive human rights abuses. Abuses may consist of violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, unlawful confiscation of property, limits on freedom of movement, and discriminatory and corrupt treatment in both public and private domains. 

Chronic abuse of this kind will impact negatively on any person’s physical and mental health and wellbeing. Responding to these matters has been a key focus of sex worker activism globally. Sex workers have been involved in many projects in order to reduce the occurrence of these harms. There range from local anti-violence initiatives and police training to international human rights advocacy.

However the impact of legal services for sex workers generally, the relationship between legal services and health status, and the place of legal services amongst other responses has not been rigorously examined.  (more…)

15/06/2009 at 10:54 Leave a comment

Lies, damn lies and statistics

One of the main tasks of PLRI is to improve the evidence base on sex work. We spend a lot of time grappling with existing research to try and understand its validity and the ethics of its manufacture. Understanding research and communicating it honestly and appropriately is not always easy. Sometimes research findings can be misunderstood and sometimes they are wilfully misrepresented to support a normative position.

A lively exchange yesterday on the message boards of the Guardian, a UK newspaper, has brought some of these tensions out into the open. The article that attracted all the interest, The truth of trafficking, was featured in the print edition of the newspaper. Articles on this topic appear in the Guardian on an almost weekly basis stimulated, in part, by proposed law reform that would criminalise the clients of sex workers who are ‘controlled for another person’s gain’.

It is not unusual for online media coverage of sex work related issues to set the message boards alight. Often they attract a strange breed of commentator. It is not unusual to find legitimate comment crowded out by remarks that are irrelevant, ill informed and at worst abusive.

What is striking about the interventions made by readers in response to this article – beyond how relevant and well argued their points are – is how they centre on the use/misuse of evidence. Specifically the assertion made by the author that, ‘In Britain, it is estimated that 80% of the 80,000 women in prostitution are foreign nationals, most of whom have been trafficked.’ (more…)

03/04/2009 at 16:54 1 comment


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