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Sex workers statement to ICAAP 2009

Endorsed by 80 sex workers from 14 countries, 8 August 2009
  • Sex Work is Work, we demand our work be recognized by Government and all groups in society, including religious institutions. Decriminalise sex work and recognise ALL sex workers; male, transgender and female. Criminal laws lead to abuse by police, army and Government officials, and reduces access to HIV support, sexual health and human rights. Remove non-labor officials as regulators of our work. USAID funding policy must include the specific needs of male and transgender sex workers.

Sex workers from around the world at the opening night of ICAAP. A shortened version of this statement was read at the opening event.

  • Sex workers are central to all sex worker policy – we are the leaders, listen to us. Independent, accountable, autonomous, transparent sex workers organsiations/networks/groups that represent their community, are central to HIV prevention and the human rights of sex workers as an affected community. Sex workers sharing experiences and supporting one another across the Asia Pacific has developed a strong movement with a long history. More sustainable resources allow for our organizations to advocate sex worker issues to the HIV sector, domestic Governments, funding bodies and the UN.
  • Sex workers live with dignity; Ban Ki Moon urges: “We can remove punitive laws, policies, practices, stigma and discrimination that block effective responses to AIDS” Ratify CEDAW and recognise the rights of women who work as sex workers. Male and Transgender sex workers must also be protected from discrimination. Children of sex workers and sex worker parents and guardians have rights; end the removal of sex workers children. Sex workers who use drugs are a part of our community and deserve equal respect and access to services and support. Law reform for sex workers must include anti-discrimination protections.

Sheena (SAN, Fiji), Ari (OPSI, Indonesia) and Wee (EMPOWER, Thailand) read out the statement at the conclusion of the Community Forums

  • The US Trafficking In Persons Report is inaccurate and perpetuates the conflation of sex work and trafficking. Anti-trafficking laws reduce safe avenues for sex worker mobility, increase vulnerability and result in police, army and NGO unfounded “raids,” forced “rescue” and deportation. The proliferation of UN agencies and NGO’s investing in anti-trafficking policy has seen replication, inefficient use of resources and systemic exclusion of sex workers from leadership. Sex workers demand the US Administration repeal the ‘The Pledge” and recognise sex workers as experts on the issue of our own migration.
  • Sex workers living with HIV have a right to work and participate in the broader sex worker and HIV community. Criminalisation, mandatory testing and the 100% Condom Use Policy infringe upon sex worker rights. Fulfill commitments to universal access to ARV’s, care and treatment, STI services and sex worker driven and led organising.