Sex Workers Thank UN Secretary General for His Support

Contact:
Laxshmi Narayan Tripiti, Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers, laxmirakasha@yahoo.co.in
Melissa Ditmore, Network of Sex Work Projects, +1 646-242-1658
Prostitutes of New York, pony@panix.com
Women’s Network for Unity, +855-12-222-171

Sex Workers Thank UN Secretary General for His Support

Sex workers from around the world unfurled a banner reading “Sex workers support Ban Ki Moon” during his speech at the opening plenary of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. Sex workers thank United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki moon for his support of their efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

On March 26, 2008, the Report of the Commission on AIDS in Asia was released with a statement from the Secretary General. This excellent report calls for the decriminalization of sex work, and counsels governments and other actors to, “Avoid programmes that accentuate AIDS-related stigma and can be counterproductive. Such programmes may include ‘crack-downs’ on red-light areas and arrest of sex workers.” Realistic efforts to include affected populations including sex workers are critical to combat the spread of HIV – in fact, sex workers are generally leaders in sexual health when their human rights are respected. The report further promotes the needs of marginalized populations including drug users for efficacious and ethical solutions, such as harm reduction methodologies, to the HIV epidemic. The report further promotes the needs of marginalized populations including drug users for efficacious and ethical solutions, such as harm reduction methodologies, to the HIV epidemic.

Unfortunately, some Asian governments have not adopted the methods recommended in this report. Cambodia has recently outlawed prostitution and since then brothels, bars, street areas, and karaoke clubs across the country have been closed or gone underground. Hundreds of women have been arrested and imprisoned, or have had to move. Dozens have been raped and beaten by police and prison guards. HIV prevention and care programs have collapsed. This law makes sex workers easier prey for traffickers, and makes it impossible for sex workers to use condoms. Sex workers in Cambodia protested this law on June 4, calling for repeal of the law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation and for an end to raids on sex workers. They said, “Don’t be fooled by talk of rescuing ‘sex slaves’ until you have heard our testimonials and seen video evidence of the brutality and misery this new law is causing.” http://blip.tv/file/970833

Melissa Hope Ditmore, Ph.D.
Coordinator
Network of Sex Work Projects
rights@nswp.org, secretariat@nswp.org

P.O. Box 20853
New York, NY 10009
USA