Scarlet News:

“Sex Worker Eviction in Tangail, Bangladesh, disrupts Asia Pacific AIDS Conference Negotiation” 25 July 2014

Jul 24, 2014 | Media release, News

The 12th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) is to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2015. A boycott of this event is imminent due to eviction of 1000 sex workers and their families, totalling 2000 people, from a 200 year old brothel district in Bangladesh. Ironically the theme of the conference is women, and Key Affected Populations, which includes sex workers. The area has been raised by bulldozers and is described by local sex workers as now looking more like a desert than their fomer homes and workplaces.

Civil society groups representing key affected populations call on the Bangladeshi government to address this situation quickly or they will be forced to boycott ICAAP 2015.

Sex worker organisations are currently writing to ASAP to urge them to stop all negotiations with the Bangladeshi Government until this issue is resolved. Sex workers and civil society will boycott ICAAP 2015 unless the livelihood of the sex workers is protected and safe housing is found for evicted Tangail Bangladeshi sex workers.The evictions have left sex workers and their children displaced and without safe housing.

Speaking from the 20th international AIDS Conference held in Melbourne, Australia, global, regional and national sex worker groups announced "Unless the Bangladesh government takes immediate action and provides the sex workers and their families with safe housing and protects thier livelihood we will call for a regional boycott the ICAAP 2015" said Ruth Morgan Thomas, NSWP, Global Network of Sex work Projects.

"If the international HIV community ignores the rights of these sex workers and children we are implicit and will fail in our task to address HIV." Said Tracey Tully, Co-coordinator of APNSW, Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers

"While we understand the importance of civil society representation at the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) we cannot stay idle while sex workers in Bangladesh are left without homes or workplaces and with increased vulnerability to HIV." said Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association.