UN goodwill ambassador on trafficking not ambassadorial

David Henry Sterry has interviewed me about my run-in with Mira Sorvino in Egypt in the Huffington Post – aimed at US audiences. Trafficking campaigners publish continuously in the HP, so this is a small good thing.

A Conversation With the Naked Anthropologist About Sex Trafficking

No one seems to oversee the behaviour of these UN goodwill ambassadors at all. Sorvino’s goodwill ambassador for trafficking for UNODC – drugs and crime – and both her present and ex-bosses were present in Egypt when she behaved like this, so perhaps they are simply glad to be associated with celebrities, no matter how they behave.

The BBC World Debate that was the cause of my being there was broadcast worldwide a few weekends ago. Eventually they will upload it to their website and I will advise.

Laura Agustín

The Naked Anthropologist

AIDS 2008: Pre Conference Day 2

So I’ve learned a lot today! The AIDS conference will have 25,000 people there! I’m shocked, I had no idea it would be so big! Today we planned our strategies for the upcoming conferences, more on that soon! Otherwise it’s been really great working with , meeting and getting to know even more amazing people. Today for me was busy. 2 support calls, lots of planning for the week, and trying to finish off last minute print jobs for the conference. Somehow Dinner and I didn’t work out, I went to when and where I thought dinner was supposed to be and nobody was there! I found a little asian market and picked up some dumplings, which turned out to be kinda gross. But I ate, and that’s the important part. I’ve had some of the best soups of my life here however!

Sometimes people ask me why I’m involved in Sex Worker Rights. One of many reasons came to me again today, which revolves around my transgendered status.

I get on average 2 or 3 emails a month from my transgendered brothers and sisters memorializing another murdered transgendered person in the United States. While some of these people are not sex workers, many transgendered people are Sex Workers because when society labels you a freak, the job market gets amazingly small in a hurry! Yet, we want to earn a living, and pay for our food, a place to stay, and be fiscally solvent like everyone else. Sex Work is and should be a viable job option for transgendered people (and any other type of person).

The GLBT community is working on future transgendered rights, and ending the communal discrimination against us. While I help with and support that struggle, what I’m doing with sex workers now, is helping transgendered people with viable job options in the sex industry. We as transgendered people are respected better in this community than in many other communities.

If you are a transgendered sex worker and need support, I want to let you know that SWOP’s Chicago Chapter is offering a hotline to support transgender sex workers for general health and safety issues as it relates to the TS community, etc. To access this service dial 877-776-2004 option 3, then option 3, or if you are in the chicago area, dial 312-252-3880 then option 3.

Thank you for letting me share one of many reasons why I’m here doing what I do. Please feel free to comment below and share with us why you are involved in, or interested in Sex Workers, their communities and rights?

Tomorrow night we will be doing a live radio show on XXBN. You should definitely come talk with us on the show! Bring questions, talk to a real live transgendered person, or just listen to us talk about all the things we are doing here in Mexico City.

Sex Workers & HIV/AIDS: Reality Check

Melissa Ditmore’s latest piece at http://www.realitycheck.com: Punishing Sex Workers Won’t Cure HIV/AIDS, Says Ban Ki-moon

Add United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the list of people who understand that arresting and punishing sex workers is counter-productive in the battle against HIV/AIDS. And take the government of Cambodia off that list.

The Global Working Group on HIV and Sex Work Policy wrote to Ban in June to applaud his statement commending the findings of a March report that favored decriminalizing sex work. The Report of the Commission on AIDS in Asia noted that sex workers are part of the solution to preventing the spread of HIV, and advised countries to “avoid programs that accentuate AIDS-related stigma and can be counterproductive. Such programs may include ‘crack-downs’ on red-light areas and arrest of sex workers.”

To express their gratitude for this understanding, sex workers and advocates circulated a statement at the June 11-12 UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS as Ban spoke to the gathering in New York. “Sex workers thank [Ban] for his support of their efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” the statement said.

The March report strongly advised countries to enlist sex workers in the effort to prevent the spread of HIV. It included firm recommendations against punitive measures targeting sex work and other frowned-upon behaviors, on the grounds that such approaches have proven counter-productive. The UN Secretary-General supported these recommendations in his statement and sex workers everywhere are grateful.

Unfortunately, some governments continue to deny reality.

Under pressure from the United States, Cambodia outlawed prostitution in February. The government’s promotion of a “no condoms, no sex” program in legal brothels there had succeeded in reducing HIV infection rates, but now those brothels have closed or gone underground, along with bars, karaoke clubs and street areas. Hundreds of women have been arrested, jailed or displaced, while dozens have been raped and beaten by police and prison guards. The HIV prevention and care programs that were working have collapsed.

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