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Press Release: Sex workers, governments and UN join hands to boost AIDS response in Asia-Pacific region

PATTAYA, Thailand, 15 October 2010 - At the first-ever Asia-Pacific consultation on HIV and sex work, sex workers, government officials and United Nations participants emphasized the need for urgent action to increase focus and positioning of sex work within HIV responses in the region.

Close to 150 delegates from eight countries (China, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Thailand) met in Pattaya, Thailand, to form partnerships and review policies and laws that keep sex workers from accessing HIV services and sexual and reproductive health services.

“Sex work interventions must be central to scaling up the HIV response, and listening to sex workers is crucial,” said Jan Beagle, Deputy-Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) who spoke at the consultation. “Sex workers experience firsthand the effects of laws and harmful enforcement practices that violate their human rights and hamper progress on HIV,” he said.

Choice in the labour market – sex work as “work”

A blog post by Nivedita Menon on Kafila, 6 May 2011.

The summary of preliminary findings of the first pan-India survey of sex-workers is now available on-line.  3000 women from 14 states and 1 UT were surveyed, all of them from outside collectivised/organised and therefore politically active spaces, precisely  “in order to bring forth the voices of a hitherto silent section of sex workers.”

The significant finding is this: About 71 percent of them said they had entered the profession willingly.

Majority of female sex workers join the trade voluntarily-survey says

A news story in the Health(Y) Destination on May 1 2011.

A recent survey conducted at Pune reveals that 70 percent of the female sex workers join the trade voluntarily and they were not forced or sold.

Most of the sex workers join the trade only in their later age after relieved from other labour such as domestic work and construction of building work. It is revealed that the sex work is also felt by them as that of the other labour work.

The findings were revealed by a survey conducted by ‘First pan-India survey of sex workers’ at Pune University.

Better livelihood prospect drives poor Indian women to prostitution

An article by Subir Ghosh in Digital World published on the 1 May 2011.

New Delhi, India. Four out of five female sex workers in India have joined the profession voluntarily; they were not forced or sold into it. Prostitution is just one among several livelihood options available to women from poor backgrounds, says a new survey.

'70% sex workers opt for prostitution'

This news story was written by Aarefa Johari for the Hindustan Times on the 1 May 2011. The story is a write up of the launch of the 'First pan-India survey of sex workers', conducted by Pune University academicians Rohini Sahni and V Kalyan Shankar.

'Better pay 'drives' women to prostitution'

A news story in the Times of India by Anahita Mukherji which highlights our research on sex work's position in the labour market in India. This story was published on Labour Day, or May Day, 2011.

Sex work recognised as a legal occupation in Bangladesh

This is a story by Anbarasan Ethirajan which was featured on the BBC News website on the 17 August 2010.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

This report considers the denial of sex workers’ enjoyment of the right to health that results from the criminalization of sex work and related practices (such as solicitation). Impacts on the right to health are discussed along with issues particular to sex work. Specifically, the failure of legal recognition of the sex-work sector results in infringements of the right to health, through the failure to provide safe working conditions, and a lack of recourse to legal remedies for occupational health issues.

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