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SWAN members from Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan took part in a sex workers' organizations meeting

On June 27-29, 2017, SWAN members of All-Ukrainian Charitable Organization «LEGALIFE-UKRAINE» and "Tais Plus" (Kyrgyzstan) took part in a sex workers' organization meeting in Amsterdam. The meeting was organized by Aidsfonds, and sex workers from 11 countries have attended (Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa, Nigeria, Myanmar and the Netherlands). NSWP and the Red Umbrella Fund also attended the meeting.

All the participants were part of the large projects: Bringing The Gaps and PITCH for community mobilization in their countries.

The meeting was dedicated to develop the monitoring’ and evaluation' approaches. For most participants, this was the first opportunity to meet and to share their experiences. Representatives of Legalife-Ukraine spoke about the groups they established in 8 regions of Ukraine, the plans on registration of branches, about how sex workers learned to report the crimes, and how the interaction with the Human Rights Department of the National Police has been established.

Two representatives of Tais Plus took part in the meeting, sharing their experiences on community mobilization. "Our organization is constantly driving efforts to mobilize the community, however with the support of BtG we began to do this more regularly," said representative of Tais Plus.

After dividing in groups, the participants focused on : discussing and developing methodologies, defining  general messages from the community for the HIV / AIDS conference that will take place in Amsterdam next year, and planned joint activities.

A separate meeting was held with the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the municipality. "It was not a formal meeting-acquaintance. They asked many questions, they really wanted to know how things are in our countries, what problems do sex workers face, how in our opinion does the  government treat problems related to sex work" - said Natalia Dorofeeva, information manager of Legalife-Ukraine.

All the participants of the meeting were united by a common problem - the creation of safe working conditions. "The participants told that more and more sex workers are going to the Internet because of harassment by the police. We were shocked by the stories of colleagues from Africa - the cruelty and violence by the police against sex workers is monstrous"- says Natalia Isaiieva, the director of Legalife-Ukraine.

"Especially memorable was the session, which was held by Misha from PROUD, the Netherlands. She was explaining what to do in case you are interrogated by the police. She showed 10 Manipulation Tools that outlined how the police had manipulated the detainees during interrogation. Then Misha asked the volunteers to do a role-play of a police interrogating a sex worker using these 10 techniques. While participants played the scene, other participants had to guess which of the ten techniques were used. The role-play was very interesting; a participant from Nigeria was a policeman, and she showed how the police treats sex workers in their country and how the interrogation is conducted. Judging by the role setting, they have a very difficult situation in their country, she also showed how they are beaten and raped.  Another memorable session was conducted by a representative of KESWA on the experience of building a network in Kenya. She was so enthusiastic about this process, it was clear how difficult it was and the amount of effort invested. Today KESWA consists of 64 members - groups of sex workers from different regions of the country "- shared representative of Tais Plus.