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SWAN News, Issue 25, Summer 2009

To read the issue ONLINE go here.
To download SWAN News PRINTABLE VERSION please click here.


IN FOCUS: Conferences and Events Calendar
*XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010)
*The Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF)
*The International Harm Reduction Conference
*The 4th Annual International Conference on Engaging the Other: The Power of Compassion

*Bulgaria: research on Bulgarian sex workers
*Albania: media publishes results of survey with sex workers
*Macedonia: Police raid and forced testing of 23 sex workers in Skopje - UPDATE
*Hungary: MPEE holds survey on public opinion
*Slovakia: C.A. Odyseus runs cafeteria for sex workers on the street
*Kyrgyzstan: A Case Story – transgender migrant sexworker

*PART 1: Confronting abuses in the workplace
*PART 2: 100 Flavours of Sex Work in Kazakhstan

*What is Advocacy?
*Advocacy and Non Violent Action
*Gandhi: Advocacy and Non-violence
*Advocacy, Non-Violence and You


IN FOCUS: Conferences and Events Calendar
Summer is not only a season for vacation, but also a time to take stock of the events since January and to plan for the months ahead. In this issue we provide a review of the upcoming conferences and events so that you can apply and plan for fund raising in advance.

XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010)
This conference will be held in Vienna, Austria, from 18 to 23 July 2010. Even though the date seems to be far from now it is important to remember that the registration and abstract and scholarship application submissions start in 2009!
The organizers believe that this conference will be an important event as it coincides with “the deadline by which world leaders have committed to ensuring universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support”. This conference will give an opportunity to analyse and discuss what has been achieved and what still needs to be done to achieve the goals. The conference plans to have about 25,000 participants and 2,500 media in attendance. More...

The Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF)
Advocates, service providers, researchers, artists and all others working for the health and human rights of men who have sex with men are invited to attend the bi-annual MSM Pre-Conference immediately preceding the International AIDS Conference in Vienna , 2010. More...

The International Harm Reduction Conference (IHRA 21) 
The conference theme for 2010 is ‘Harm Reduction: The Next Generation’ and will be held in Liverpool, England from the 25th to the 29th of April. More...

The 4th Annual International Conference on Engaging the Other: The Power of Compassion
San Francisco (San Mateo), California USA will host this conference from November 12th to the 15th 2009. The conference examines dimensions and dynamics of "The OTHER" on individual and group levels, and considers how enemy identity is formed, perpetuated, and manipulated - including fear-based belief systems, negative stereotypes, projection, prejudice, polarization, and scapegoating. More...

Bulgaria: research on Bulgarian sex workers
July 2009, Sofia – An in-depth analysis of prostitution in post-socialist Bulgaria is now available on the “Liberal Review” website. The author of the study, Tihomir Bezlov is a sociologist, an independent researcher of criminal processes in Bulgaria and the founder and leading specialist in the Democracy Research Center in Sofia, Bulgaria. This document is one of the rare and current research projects that treat sex work as a separate phenomenon, apart from trafficking. According to main participants in sex industry – ex-sex workers, sex workers, pimps and owners of “public houses” – women who are forced into sex work constitute not more than 10% of all sex workers. More…

Albania: Media Publishes Results of Survey with Sex Workers
July 2009, Tirana -- Aksion Plus, an Albanian NGO and SWAN member since 2006, worked in cooperation with one of the main media outlets in Tirana to publicize interviews and focus group discussions with sex workers. More…

Macedonia: Police Raid and Forced Testing of 23 Sex Workers in Skopje - UPDATE
After the police raid that took place on 20-21st November, 2008 in Skopje, Macedonia during which 23 sex workers were detained and tested for HIV, HEP B and HEP C, both national and international human rights groups, sex workers groups, supporters and allies took a wide range of actions to raise awareness on the issue, protect the sex workers involved and prevent similar future violations. Read the update on the situation here.

Hungary: MPEE Holds Survey on Public Opinion
September 3, 2009, Budapest -- The Association of Hungarian Prostitutes (MPEE), a member of SWAN in Hungary held a press conference to highlight the results of a recent survey on the opinion of mainstream population about prostitution in Hungary. More…

Slovakia:C.A. Odyseus Runs Cafeteria for Sex Workers on the Street
C.A. Odyseus, SWAN member in Slovakia, has introduced a new element in their outreach services for street sex workers. Street cafeteria though still a novelty, has already proved to be a successful step in making social work more accessible and involving for sex workers. More…

Kyrgyzstan: A Case Story – transgender migrant sexworker
The following story was documented and shared at the 24th Program Coordinating Board (UNAIDS) Meeting, Thematic Segment People on the Move in June of 2009 by Gulnara Kurmanova of Tais Plus, a SWAN member from Kyrgyzstan with the assistance from Selbi Jumayeva and published on the blog of Laura Agustin Border Thinking on Migration, Trafficking and Commercial Sex. The story tells about the surviving of sex workers - and in particular of migrant transgender sex workers - on the streets of Bishkek. More…

This interview with Victoriya, a sex worker from Kazakhstan from June 2008, provides a unique perspective on the local sex work situation. She touches on sex workers’ relationship wit the police, the changing nature of the profession and the little-discussed phenomena of heterosexual male sex workers selling sex to women. While the interview is frank and honest, she seems optimistic and has some words of encouragement for her fellow sex workers.

PART 1: Confronting abuses in the workplace
“People don’t go into the hospitals and beat up the doctors for doing their job!” More...

100 Flavours of Sex Work in Kazakhstan
“My message to all the sex workers who read SWAN News is: It doesn’t matter what kind of sex you are having, the most important is for it to be safe !” More...

What is Advocacy?

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. More..

“People don’t go into the hospitals and beat up the doctors for doing their job!” – from an interview with a sex worker from Kazakhstan

Invitation to Conference
5th Global Conference: The Erotic - Exploring Critical Issues
6 to 8 November 2009
Salzburg, Austria
The erotic remains a tantalisingly difficult concept to describe or delineate – a quality we all understand in our subjective experience and affective reflections but find difficult to bound or delimit in our intellectual work. Whilst most engagements with the erotic recognise a relationship between the erotic and the sexual, it is clear that the erotic presents a far more complex and discursive space within which the phenomenological, aesthetic, scientific and normative understanding of issues of human sensuality, sexuality, desire and taste can be articulated. This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary project, now calling for participation in its fifth conference, aims to explore the challenging and paradoxical nature of the 'erotic'. More…

Participate: Say NO to Violence against Women!
Last year 5,066,549 people from around the world, civil society organizations and governments signed on to Say NO, sending the urgent message to governments everywhere that ending violence against women and girls must be a top priority.
This November, UNIFEM will take the initiative one step further and launch a new platform for action, Say NO–UNiTE to End Violence against Women. It is UNIFEM’s contribution to the UN Secretary-General’s campaign to end violence against women involving governments, civil society and the entire UN system.
Say NO–UNiTE will count and showcase actions taken by individuals, organizations and governments worldwide to end violence against women. Whether you volunteer at a shelter, reach out to students, advocate for better laws and policies — every action counts.
Add your name to become part of a global community rising to say NO to violence against women and girls here.

Newsletters and reports
Rights, Not Rescue!
A report supported by OSI and authored by Jayne Arnott and Anna-Louise Crago
covers issues of human rights violations of female, male, and trans sex workers in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. Despite enormous challenges, sex workers are organizing to protect their rights and demand an end to violence and discrimination. In addition to the published report, sex workers who participated in the research and related roundtable discussions describe through audio taped interviews the effects of these rights abuses and how they are organizing to respond. Read and listen in English here.

"From us to us" published by STAR, a Macedonian sex workers’ rights activists group covers local and international news about sex work and provides an overview of various opinions on trafficking. Read Issue 7 and Issue 8 in Macedonian.

Women’s Net newsletter
In its summer issue Women’s Net Newsletter publishes the results of a writing workshop organised by Sisonke (Johannesburg) and the Wits Writing Centre and supported by the Reproductive Health & HIV Research Unit (RHRU) and the Tswaranang Legal Advocacy Centre. Five personal stories written by African sex workers are brought together under the title Johannesburg Sex Workers Speak Out. Read the stories here in English.

RedOrbit, Indonesia
Conference Seeks Decriminalization of Homosexuality, Prostitution
August 10th 2009---A four-day meeting of leading health experts was convened seeking to repeal many outdated laws criminalizing prostitution and homosexuality as an effort to secure medical treatment for people who are at risk or suffering from HIV/AIDS. Fear, stigmatisation, and discrimination have plagued high-risk groups since the 1980s and little has changed in the last 20 years.Experts agree that the criminalisation of sex work, illicit drug use and sex between men seriously hamper prevention and support efforts no less than social change is needed to strengthen the potency of the medical gains made in coping with the pandemic. Addressing the human rights deficit will be the next big fight in AIDS/HIV prevention work. More...

Scarlet Alliance, Indonesia
More Sex Worker Protest the International Congress on Aids in Asia and the Pacific and Present Recommendations for 2011
The sex workers of ICAAP 2009 are demanding the inclusion of multiple languages at ICAAP 2011. In their opinion, ICAAP is wasting resources bringing so many people together without providing adequate translations for non-English speakers and not having culturally sensitive translators. They also oppose the use of English as the dominant conference language. They also want to a sex worker committee to oversee sex work related abstracts and scholarships for 2011. In their estimation, sex workers should be more involved in sex worker issues in the conference. More...

TerraViva/IPS, Indonesia
RIGHTS-ASIA: Transgenders Assert Identity at AIDS Meet
August 13th 2009--- This article highlights some of the issues surrounding identity and transgender people that came up in during the ICCAP meeting in Bali, Indonesia. According to Kartini Slemeh, under-education and discrimination make the transgender community one of the most vulnerable in the fight to prevent further HIV/AIDS cases. Social inclusion and acceptance, while a still a long ways away, are at the heart of fight against HIV/AIDS, especially in the transgender community. More...

Bangkok Post, Thailand
Suspected Serial Killer Jailed For One Murder, Indicted in Deaths of 4 Other Women In 2005
August 22nd 2009---The Criminal Court has found Somkid Phumphuang, 45, a Nakhon Si Thammarat resident, guilty of intentionally killing Warunee Phimphabut, 25, a singer at a night entertainment establishment, on January 30, 2005. He has been sentenced to life imprison and has also been indicted in four other murder cases, all involving sex workers. More

Newstrack India, India
Mumbai Witnesses Glamour in the Cause of a Noble Deed
August 22nd, 2009---Pooja Chopra, winner of India’s Femina beauty contest and India’s 2009 representation for the Miss World contest, visited a red-light area in Mumbai, in order to interact and encourage the children of sex workers.The visit was organised Apna Women, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the welfare of sex workers. More...

ABC News, Australia
Sex Workers Seek Health Protection
August 20th 2009---The Scarlet Alliance is calling on the government to fund a dedicated health organisation for sex workers. It says Tasmania is the only state or territory that does not have its own long term organisation for sex workers. More...

African Eye News Service, Swaziland
Swaziland Told To Legalise Prostitution, Gay Marriage
August 19th 2009---HIV and gay activists in Swaziland are calling for the legalisation of prostitution and gay marriages to bring the spread of the HIV epidemic under control. Swaziland Aids Support Organisation (SASO) spokesperson, Vusi Matsebula, said it was necessary to conduct a study to look at the role prostitutes can play in preventing the spread of the disease. The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) director, Eric Harper, also recommended the decriminalisation of sex work alongside a new prostitution law that addresses potential harm and HIV infections. More...

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 sexwork@tasz.hu
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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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