SWAN members from Poland, Macedonia, Russia, Turkey, Slovakia and Ukraine commemorated the 17th of December with different events.
Kemalita Ördek, the executive director of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association, a transgender sex worker and human rights activist, was violently attacked by 3 criminals in her house in Ankara in July 2015. All 3 attackers were found guilty and sentenced.
SWAN wrote a submission to UN Women regarding their consultation on "sex work, sex trade and prostitution"
A regional training on the SWIT (Sex Worker Implementation Tool) took place in Budapest on 21-25 June 2016. Teams from 7 countries attended the training: Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Georgia, Macedonia, Serbia. Among them were female, male and transgender sex workers.
The UNAIDS 2016-2021 strategy is calling for decriminalisation of sex work, same sex acts, HIV transmission, and drug use.
SWAN is glad to present the new Community of Learning website: www.sexworkersrightscommunity.org. Community of Learning is a library/repository of knowledge, information and resources on successful advocacy tactics to defend sex workers' rights.
Our colleagues from Toronto developed some necessary framework shifts in talking about exploitation of migrant sex workers, based on the document from the USA about Reconceptualizing Approaches to Human Trafficking. Through the outreach work with migrant workers in Toronto, and decade of dedication to sex worker organizing in Hong Kong - here are some necessary framework shifts in talking about exploitation of migrant sex workers, that can be used when working with media.
The Association of Hungarian Sex Workers recently represented Hungarian sex workers at the 54th Session of CEDAW, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Geneva, in February 2013. By using the submission of a shadow report and active advocacy at the session , the Association achieved a landmark success in its history: the Committee recommended that the Hungarian government ‘adopt measures aimed at preventing discrimination against sex workers and ensure that legislation on their rights to safe working conditions is guaranteed at national and local levels’.
“Why Do They Take Our Condoms, Do They Want Us to Die?”
by Rachel Thomas, Public Health Program, OSI
Several years ago a sex worker in Macedonia told me that she'd had condoms with her when she was taken into custody by law enforcement, and that the police refused to return her money or condoms when she was released. It was late, and home was too far away to walk, so she had unprotected sex with a client in order to afford the bus. Over the years, I've heard similar stories from sex workers around the world. Criminalizing Condoms, a 6-country report released today by the Open Society Foundations, documents the legal and illegal confiscation of condoms by police and the grave repercussions on sex workers' lives and health.
By Titania Kumeh
Asked if he’s ever felt exploited as a sex worker, Will Rockwell—the 24-year-old editor-in-chief of the sex worker-operated magazine $pread—replies, "Yes, by the media. Every interview we do is twisted for the purposes of sensationalistic propaganda, whether it's the conservative New York Post jerking itself off over the Spitzer scandal or Ms. Magazine fantasizing about female victimhood and applying it in broad strokes to people they never really cared to know, and certainly never offered a helping hand free of judgment and surveillance." He says the sensationalist and often stereotype-ridden depictions of sex workers—prostitutes, exotic dancers, dominatrices, phone-sex operators, and people who engage in informal forms of transactional sex—by media outlets sparked the 2005 creation of $pread, the country’s only magazine developed by and for sex workers.
SWAN News: How do American sex workers feel about the US prostitution policy abroad?
The sex worker activists I have worked with are angry, sad and disempowered by the [anti-prostitution] Pledge, the devastating impact this has on the lives of sex workers around the world and the ways this has effected our communities, rendering us estranged from broader liberal/left communities.
1. What is the “Anti-Prostitution Pledge”?
The ‘Anti-Prostitution Pledge’ is the name given to an American policy put into place in under George Bush. Since 2003, any groups receiving money for anti-trafficking or HIV programs have to have a policy opposing prostitution. This affects groups all around the world who receive money from the American government and work with sex workers – even if they are receiving US money for something other than their work with sex workers.
New approaches can be invaluable in sensitizing a hostile public or achieving a shift in the tone of the media coverage of sex workers.
Advocacy is defined by the International Advocacy Campaign as “taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain the services they need.” While this may seem like it requires special skills or talent, the truth is that most of us have some advocacy experience from our daily lives. As parents, friends, family members, citizens, employers and employees, whether we do it for ourselves or on behalf of others, we have all made use of advocacy at one time or another.
There are many people in society who are ignored and have difficulty in gaining the attention that is needed to make sure their views and opinions are listened to and acted upon. This leads to them being marginalized and socially excluded. Advocacy is a safeguard for people who are socially marginal, discriminated against or otherwise ignored against even further social or political isolation. Through an advocate, advocacy provides the means to redress a social imbalance of power by providing a mixture of: support; indicating how events are likely to develop and providing advice on what course of action should be taken; providing links to other services; sharing information and knowledge to support decision making; and being a ‘voice’ to ensure that people’s rights and opinions are respected. Advocacy also helps people to: develop confidence and assertiveness to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction; become empowered, find strength in numbers and to actively engage in the political, social and economic spheres of their communities.
Advocacy is guided by the principle that every person should be valued, and ensures that people are not ignored and excluded because of the prejudices they face, that lead to lack of respect from others.Advocacy places the person in the centre of its aims and goals, while holding to the principle that everyone has the right to be respected, listened to and involved in the decision-making process, especially on issues that affect their lives. Because it focuses on helping people be heard and getting what they need, advocacy is closely associated with the principles of social justice, civil and human rights.