SWAN NEWS, Issue 23 February – March, 2009
3RD OF MARCH, INTERNATIONAL SEX WORKER RIGHTS DAY
The day originated in 2001 when over 25,000 sex workers gathered in India for a sex worker festival. The organizers of the first festival were Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a Calcutta based group whose membership consists of somewhere upwards of 50,000 sex workers and members of their communities. Sex worker groups across the world have subsequently celebrated 3 March as International Sex Workers’ Rights Day.
You can read more about the history of the day in English and some comments at Feministe and at Women's Rights blog
You can see pictures about how the sex workers celebrated the day of action in New York at LISTICLES.
Row over Swiss prostitute buried next to Calvin
The Earth Times
Geneva, March 10, 2009, - „A writer, painter and prostitute," is proudly written on her tomb.
A Swiss prostitute and sex worker campaigner has been buried in a plot next to John Calvin in Geneva's famous Cemetery of the Kings, Swiss media reported Tuesday. Griselidis Real, who died in 2005, rose to fame in Switzerland after she formed a charity in the 1970s to help both male and female prostitutes, after a long career as a sex worker herself. More
SWEAT (Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Task Force) launched a petition against police harassment as part of International Sex Worker Day, 3rd March in South Africa
Petition against police harassment was launched together with court application against illegal arrest of sex workers. According to Valda Lucas, "the 3rd of March event spokesperson, "about 60 sex workers from the Cape Metropole as well as Beaufort West will look at ways and means in which they can protect themselves from unscrupulous clients and police harassment, be conscientised about their rights and they will have a sense of belonging to a larger community," she says. The aim of the day is to openly celebrate and share amongst themselves the achievements and challenges facing the sex work industry in terms of decriminalising the profession. More
Sex workers protest for more rights in Istanbul and Ankara
The protesters carried red umbrellas, an internationally used symbol on the day. They demand acceptance of their work as an occupation and the right to organise. Representing around 20 sex workers who had gathered in front of Istanbul’s Galatasaray Highschool in Beyoglu, Eylem Cagdas reads a statement. “We want neither discrimination nor privilege. We only want to make use of the constitutional rights we were all given at birth. Respecting sex work is not a favour, it is a constitutional responsibility.” She added: “Unfortunately, we cannot celebrate International Sex Workers Day, because we are always faced with violence. The police is also practising and reinforcing this violence.” More
Sex workers participate in an exclusive fashion show
Twenty sex workers walked the ramp in the fashion show, jointly organised by the North Bengal Art Academy and Durbar Mohila Samanway Committee' (DMSC), an organisation of sex workers. The show, first of its kind in the state, was aimed at building their confidence, the academy chief Somes Das said. "We are delighted. We had been watching fashion shows in television channels since long. We have practised for past one week for the show. The only problem for us was to get a respectable audience. The organisers arranged that to our satisfaction" – said the spokesperson of the sex workers after the event. More
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN's DAY, MARCH 8
100 years ago, 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York demanding shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights. This year, the pertinence of this event is being marked by the theme of 'Shaping Progress'. This date is now observed in nearly every country around the world with a focus on events large and small to remind communities and leaders of the gender inequality that still exists across the world, and to lobby political leaders for progressive policies to promote gender equality and women's rights. International Women's Day (IWD) is now marked as a public holiday in Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam reflecting the importance given to its observance.
You can read more about the history of the International Women Day in English at the following websites:
NEWS FROM SWAN NETWORK
Good news for the SWAN News readers! With this electronic newsletter issue, first time in the history of SWAN newsletter, you will get a printable format in a pdf-file, which you can just download and print out if your computer or internet access is limited. Or if you just simply prefer reading news offline in an armchair with a cup of coffee. We also request you to distribute printed newsletter among sex workers in your organization or drop-in center.
Note that the offline newsletter is an edited and shortened version of the electronic newsletter. All the following issues of SWAN News will be accompanied by it's printer-friendly version. Go to SWAN News in PDF.
Macedonia: Partnership in Action - Skopje using video to protect sex workers
HOPS, which works to protect and promote the rights of sex workers, started partnership with WITNES (www.witness.org), human rights organization (based in New York but working globally), who uses and promotes video activism as an effective and supportive tool for promotion of rights of different groups within ongoing human rights campaigns. Concrete partnership between HOPS and WITNESS includes support in developing video advocacy plan on integrating video in this year’s 17th December campaign. More
Bulgaria: A video reportage about male sex workers on TV
This reportage, called „Profession male prostitute” shows the work of male sex workers in a town called Veliko Turnovo, and was broadcasted on one of the most popular national TV in Bulgaria - TV NOVA. You can watch this reportage in Bulgarian here. More
Slovakia: A good media coverage about Odyseus and SWAN
„More than 90% of people who are working on the streets are women, according to our latest survey” – said Lubica Tornoczyova, the team member of Odyseus in an interview which she gave to the most read weekly paper in Slovakia. The article introduces the activity of the Odyseus and SWAN, and emphasize that prostitution is definitelly not a dream job for anyone; people usually choose it as a „less evil” solution, instead of stealing or giving children away to childcare. Read more in Slovak here.
NEWS FROM RIGHTS ADVOCATES
First African Sex Worker Conference, South-Africa
Every sex worker is a human rights defender – that was the conclusion of The First African Sex Worker conference which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 3-5 February, 2009 with more then 150 particpants, including sex workers, activits and representatives from national and international NGO and Development Agencies. More
Info-Activism Camp: 150 activists get together to share experience
In February 2009 SWAN coordinator, Aliya Rakhmetova, took part in an Information Activism Camp in Bangalore, India. Read her short report on the event:
The camp brought together 150 activists and IT specialists from different countries, backgrounds and ages. Women rights advocates, advocates for political rights and freedoms, sex worker activists, environment protection advocates, HIV+ community, video activists, bloggers, journalists and representatives of many other spheres believed that successful ideas can cross borders and be utilized in various contexts and that information technology can do miracles in faster organizing and implementing your campaigns and mobilizing a wider support, local and international. It was amazing and inspiring to learn how many great ideas people generate and how much success depends on the way you package and distribute your message and information! More
SEX WORKERS’ ADVOCACY SCHOOL
In this column, SWAN News publishes articles that can help sex workers rights advocates in their daily work: how to challenge the myths surrounding sex work, how to fight abolitionists, how to work with media, communicate, create an effective message and get it across.
In this Advocacy School section we feature a short analysis of why the Pink Panties campaign in India was such a huge success by GauravMishra (visit his blog here).
Even though the campaign is not directly connected to sex work, the tips and strategy can be useful in planning your own actions and campaigns.
Three Lessons Activists and Marketers Can Learn From India’s Valentine’s Day Pink Panty Campaign
Introduction: The Pink Chaddi Campaign as a case study of online citizen activism in India.
NOTE: the article has been edited and shortened by SWAN. Read full version here.
Managing and organising collaboration in an online community is sometimes a problem. Most collective action does not achieve the desired results for many reasons. So, instead of providing a how-to checklist, we have used a case study of a one-off success story, the Pink Chaddi campaign. These one-off success stories are important because they help us get a sense of the elements and conditions needed for effective collaboration and collective action in online communities. More
SEX WORKERS’ REPORT
Nothing about us without us is a message repeated more often then ever before by sex workers around the world. This column in the SWAN News provides an opportunity for sex workers to express their opinions, tell us about their lives, problems and dreams. Contributions are welcome: write to email@example.com
Caught between the tiger and the crocodile
Cambodian Sex Worker groups and the APNSW (Asian Pacific Network of Sex Workers) are figthing against for two very abusive systems. The first problem is there are many violations against their 100% Condom Use program. The second problem is relatively new: Cambodia has just recently introduced a new anti-trafficking law which makes all sex work illegal, and where sex workers can be sent for mandatory rehabilitation.
Watch more videos made by sex workers at SEXWORKERSPRESENT. This ongoing video advocacy project became possible with the support of Open Society Institute and in association with WITNESS Video Advocacy Institute. More
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
„Every sex worker is a human right defender”
- Conclusion of the First African Sex Worker Conference
CALLS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Consultancy to Develop a Strategy for a Donor Collaboration on Sex Worker Rights
The deadline for applying is April 22, 2009.
OSI seeks a consultant to work with a donor committee in developing a strategic plan for a donor collaboration aimed at advancing sex worker rights and health. The plan will be based on desk research as well as interviews with key stake-holders, including sex worker rights groups and will provide the framework for discussions at a donor meeting in Amsterdam in November, 2009. Please see further details here.
The Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture and Society
Application deadline: April 15, 2009
An intensive four-week summer programme will be held at The Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture and Society at the Graduate School of Social Sciences, at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, between July 7 and 30, 2009, which focuses on the study of sexuality across cultures and is taught by an international faculty team. For further information and applications, please visit the Summer Institute website.
Sex Worker Film, Arts and Music Festival in early June
Application deadline is extended, submit your work!
The 5th San Francisco Sex Worker Film, Arts and Music Festival will be held between May 31 to June 7. The event will highlight works by and about male sex workers. In most cases they are usually socially isolated from one another and from the broader world of sex workers. The organizers hope to provide men space to come together and to integrate their voices into larger discussions. You can apply for volunteer work here. Also, read more about the festival program here.
Victims in Europe - 23rd Annual Conference of Victim Support Europe in June 25-26
The Victim Support Europe, the Portuguese Association for Victim Support is promoting Project Victims in Europe, which is co-financed by the European Commission, and currently organizing the Victims in Europe: 23rd Annual Conference of Victim Support Europe. The conference will take place in Lisbon and will be in English. The purpose of this event is to gather experts and professionals in the area of justice, social matters (civil society organisations) and policy-makers from different countries. It will also be an opportunity to present the framework of existing rights, and discuss the efficiency of the implementation of these rights in the European Union. It will thus provide an opportunity to discuss what rights require further implementation measures, in order to meet the needs of victims of crime. More here or write to firstname.lastname@example.org or +351 21 315 84 73.
Possibility to find partners
Here is an invitation to register in a European NGO database, The Communication Platform for Non-Governmental Organization, in which you will hopefully be able to find partners for your campaigns. Visit link http://www.non-gov.org/
Sign the petition! Sheriff Joe needs to GO!!!
"Signing this petition will help sex workers in Arizona, in the United States. Sheriff Joe has been awful to sex workers. He says it is OK for cops to have sex with sex workers then arrest them, because the cops are protecting the wives of business men who are seeing the sex workers on lunch break. With his influence, the Arizona legislation mandated 15 days jail time for first arrest for prostitution, no diversion, and the 4th arrest is a felony with two years prison". To sign the petition go to this website here.
Sign the petition against the Pope’s recent claims that condoms distribution aggravates HIV problem!
On his first visit to Africa, Pope Benedict said that "[AIDS] cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems". The Pope's statement is a huge setback to decades of hard work on AIDS prevention, education and awareness. With powerful influence over more than 1.1 billion Catholics in the world, and with 22 million HIV positive Africans, these words could dramatically affect the AIDS pandemic and put millions of lives at risk. Worldwide pressure on the Vatican is starting to show results - sign our urgent petition asking the Pope to immediately stop speaking out against condoms - go to petition page.
IN THE NEWS
For copyrights reasons, we are sometimes unable to place the full text of the selected articles on the SWAN-HCLU website. Instead, we are providing a link to the news source, for which we do not know how long it will be active. We apologize in advance for possible inconveniences. Some headlines are edited.
Selling sex legally in New Zealand
New Zealand, March 17, 2009 - In terms of attitudes towards prostitution, New Zealand and Europe are almost as diametrically opposed as they are in geography. Kiwis have opted for wholesale liberalisation of the sex trade, while Europeans are increasingly restricting it. Does the New Zealand liberal approach provide a model or a warning? Henri Astier looks at its prostitution industry six years after decriminalisation, in the first of two articles. More
SOUTH AFRICA:'My Body, My Business': Sex Workers Seek Protection from the Law
Inter Press Service News Agency
Cape Town, March 7, 2009 - The steps of the Cape Town High Court, a frequent site of protest, have seen it all, but Mar. 6, was the first time, sex workers openly stood up for their rights there. Twenty protesters - mainly women, but including a few men - defiantly held up banners and placards, a few covered their faces behind paper masks. The placards demanded "Human rights for everyone" and an end to harassment by the police. Earlier in the day, a middle-aged woman preceded the protesters, brandishing a banner: "Prostitution destroys Marriage". More
Hong Kong Alarmed Over Sex-Worker Murders
Hong Kong, February 10, 2009 - A 24 year old male suspect was arrested on February 5, 2009, in connection with the alleged murder of a Thai prostitute in a Hong Kong apartment. More
Sex workers want party support
The Times of India
Kolkata, March 19, 2009 - Sex workers have shot off letters to political parties demanding space in their election agenda. The first letter was shot off to Left Front chairman Biman Bose and it reads: "Your party is fighting for the poor and the marginalized. We expect your party to also have our agenda in your election manifesto and discuss our problems in different public forums. We will support your party if you give due weight to our issues." According to an estimate by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), there are around 70,000 sex workers in Kolkata alone. Along with their family members, they comprise an electorate of around 2,10,000. Sonagachhi, the largest red light area in the city, usually has three polling booths where sex workers cast their votes. More
Red light area residents not in poll loop
Pune, March 18, 2009 - Democracy does not really come easy for the sizeable segment of nearly 5,000 sex workers in Budhwarpeth, the biggest red light area of the city. Volunteers of various NGOs had helped several commercial sex workers in the 2004 elections to enrol themselves but five years later the situation has not improved much. If the ration card is one of the documents accepted by the government as proof of residence, then only 150 of these sex workers were issued ration cards in the last three years. Nirmala, a brothel-owner who hails from Andhra Pradesh and has settled in Pune eight years ago, still does not have her ration card. At a meeting of some 20-odd brothel-owners held at Dani Galli on Tuesday, featuring high priority was the issue of sex workers enlisted as voters. More
On topic of (im)morality
Zerkalo Nedeli, Ukraine
Statement of the National Expert Commission on public morals and All-Ukrainian Council of Churches address NGOs, GOs and citizens of Ukraine
Ukraine, January, 2009 – The more challenging life becomes, the better jokes it plays on us… In December 2008, the National Expert Commission on public morals signed a memorandum on cooperation with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations. He participants issues a joint address to state and non-governmental organizations and Ukrainian citizens with a call change the situation with morals in their country. The document starts with: "The analysis shows that morals in Ukrainian society are in a really poor state in comparison to the existing examples of morals in human civilization.” The question is what examples of “human civilization” do they refer to? The norms of Victorian England of last century? Or the norms of Antique Greece or Rome? Read the whole article in Russian here
Kenyan male sex workers serve “politicians and religious leaders”
Behind The Mask (a website magazine on lesbian and gay affairs in africa)
Kenya, January 26, 2009 - „Our clients are politicians, businessmen, religious leaders – I'm very sorry to say – but it’s true,” – says a 24 Brian, who lives in Mombasa, the second largest city in Kenya. He is a male sex worker, who caters only for male clients and his willing to talk about his lifestyle and line of work. More
The Plight of China’s Xiaojies (Sex Workers)
Crossroads (A Review of Corporate Social Responsibility in China)
China, March 4, 2009 – English translation of China Newsweek Magazine interview with Professor Zhao Jun about the abuse and homicide of Chinese sex workers. More
Sex workers in the recession
London, February 6, 2009 – the article speculate about the supply of high end call girls during economic crisis and quotes some articles written earlier. More
Sex Workers Getting F*cked by Limp Economy
(by David Henry Sterry)
The Huffington Post, Opinion Column
United States, March 14, 2009 - (….) Sex workers have been hit below the belt, and they've been hit hard. High-end and low-end, all of my ho, hooker, callgirl and rentboy friends are suffering. And since they work in an industry that's stuck in the era of Prohibition, they are not entitled to any of the protection normal citizens take for granted, like unemployment benefits, severance payments when they lose their jobs, and health care. More
If you want to read novels about Sex Workers
If you didnt spend the night of February 6 in a New York bar with three authors (Elisabeth Eaves, David Henry Sterry, Tracy Quan), at least, you could read about the writers and their novels about sex workers here.
CALL FOR FEEDBACK AND CONTRIBUTIONS
The list of SWAN News subscribers is getting bigger by the day. Please let us know if you receive the News regularly (we hope we are not discarded as spam by your computer email filter?) and give us suggestions for improvement. If you have news or stories on the sex work issues that you think are interesting or relevant for the advocates and policy makers who receive the SWAN News, please send them to us. We will carefully read and seriously consider publishing them. Our email address is email@example.com
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SWAN newsletter is the voice of the Sex Workers Rights Advocacy Network, a network of civil society organizations engaged in advocating the Human Rights of the sex workers in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. More
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