Tag Archive: Sex Work

  1. Best Clinical Practices & Policies Working with Sex Worker Populations

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    Columbia University School of Social Work

    Feminist Caucus | Queer Caucus | Men’s Caucus

    in collaboration with
    PROS Network (Providers & Resources Offering Services to Sex Workers) presents…

    BEST CLINICAL PRACTICES & POLICIES WORKING WITH SEX WORKER POPULATIONS
    Facebook Invite: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=163814787003388


    WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2011
    8:00 – 9:30PM
    1255 Amsterdam Ave, Room C03

    Learn about the “No Condoms as Evidence” Bill, How to be Competent and Sensitive Providers to a Population on the Margins, Harm Reduction Strategies for Effective Engagement

    *This event is being held in recognition of March 3rd: International Sex Worker Rights Day!

    CUSSW FACULTY MODERATOR: Marion Riedel, Associate Professor at CUSSW

    Guest Speakers:
    – Johannah Westmacott, Coordinator for Trafficked Minors, Safe Horizon Streetwork Project
    – Stephen Crowe, Managing Director of Holistic Community Healthcare Services, Harlem United Community AIDS Center
    – Andriana Ongoiba, Counselor/Advocate, Sex Workers Project

    Refreshments provided. This event will be videotaped and recorded.

    For more info, email prosnetworknyc@gmail.com or visit www.prosnetworknyc.org

  2. 7th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

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    International Day To End Violence Against Sex WorkersJoin us for a vigil and community speak out

    When: Friday, December 17, 2010 at 7:30PM – 9:30PM

    Where: Metropolitan Community Church of New York, Sanctuary (2nd floor), 446 West 36th Street, New York, NY 10018 btw 9th & 10th Aves. < http://bit.ly/dUenDt >

    Who: Current & former sex workers, our allies, friends, families, and communities. This event is free and open to the public.

    Join us in observing the 7th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

    Join us in remembering those we’ve lost to violence, oppression and hate, whether perpetrated by clients, partners, police or the state.

    We stand against the cycle of violence experienced by sex workers around the world. Recently in Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council reviewed the human rights record of the United States during their Universal Periodic Review. Uruguay’s recommendation to the Obama Administration – to address “the special vulnerability of sexual workers to violence and human rights abuses” – is the moral leadership we have been waiting for!

    Join us in solidarity to fight the criminalization, oppression, assault, rape and murder of sex workers – and of folks perceived as sex workers.

    December 17, 2003 was our first annual day to honor the sex workers who were murdered by serial killer Gary Ridgway. In Ridgway’s own words, “I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.” (BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3245301.stm)

    We come together each year to show the world that the lives of marginalized people, including those of sex workers, are valuable.

    • Speakers:
      • Audacia Ray, Red Umbrella Project & Sex Work Awareness
      • Chelsea Johnson-Long, Safe OUTside the System Collective of the Audre Lorde Project
      • Michael J. Miller, The Counterpublic Collective and PROS Network
      • Andrea Ritchie, Peter Cicchino Youth Project and Streetwise & Safe (SAS)
    • Readings
      • Reading of the names of sex workers we have lost this past year
      • Memorial for Catherine Lique by her daughter Stephanie Thompson and read by Sarah Jenny Bleviss
      • Speak out: Bring poetry, writings or just speak your truth.

    Light snacks, beverages, and metrocards will be provided.

    The red umbrella has become an important symbol for Sex Workers’ Rights and is increasingly used on December 17: “First adopted by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march in 2002, red umbrellas have come to symbolize resistance against discrimination for sex workers worldwide.”

    This event is co-sponsored by: Audre Lorde Project, Counterpublic Collective, FIERCE, MADRE, Peter Cicchino Youth Project, The Queer Commons,  PONY (Prostitutes of New York), PROS Network, Red Umbrella Project, SAFER, Sex Work Awareness, Sex Workers Project, SWANK (Sex Workers Action New yorK), SWOP-NYC (Sex Workers Outreach Project), the Space at Tompkins, and Third Wave Foundation.

    Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=110788105658599

    For events outside of New York, visit: http://www.swop-usa.org/dec17

  3. SWOP-NYC Announces Partnership with Uganda-based WONETHA

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    SWOP-NYC is pleased to announce a partnership in solidarity with Uganda-based Women’s Organization Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA).

    You can learn more about WONETHA here and here.

    Women’s Organization Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA) is a Ugandan sex worker led organization established in August 2008 by 3 passionate and determined sexworkers who have faced harassment, insults, stigma, discrimination and arrest without trial by misinformed societies and who have been stirred into responsive action concerning the plight of other sexworkers in the same working conditions.

    Macklean Kyomya, Daisy Nakato, and Zamu Namagembe, the three young women who founded WONETHA in August 2008 have all had experiences working in the commercial sex industry. Macklean, WONETHA’s Director, was struggling to pay her school fees when she followed the advice of her peers and found regular ‘sugar daddies’as a source of income. After witnessing the violent rape of her friend, she began to search for an organization that would guide and protect her. WONETHA’s programme coordinator Daisy contracted HIV from one of her first clients when she started working in a bar. During her years as a sex worker, there were many threatening exchanges between Daisy and her clients. After a particularly violent client, Daisy also went in search of a group that could help her manage her HIV and assist her in diversifying her income.

    At different times, each of these women joined an organization that claimed to protect and empower commercial sexworkers, and assist them to find better sources of income. Social stigma issues were not addressed, each of the women was given different opportunities to continue their education, attend conferences, build advocacy and writing skills, reach out to other commercial sexworkers, and stand in solidarity with women late at night in Kampala’s brothels and streets.

    However, this organization was headed by a man, and over time these women found that they were continuing to be exploited and manipulated by the male-headed administration. The staff would work, but were never paid on time. International donations were given to the organization to pay for the different needs of the target group, but none of the members ever received what they were promised. International funding for projects and programs was sent, but often disappeared. Many innovative ideas and opportunities were presented to the Chairperson but they were repeatedly shut down. Attempts to reform the leadership and management were made, but were never successful.

    Through this time, the three women were connected by their commitment to improving the self-esteem of women sex workers and breaking the stigma around sexworkers.

    Through their experiences, and with the support of many colleagues in the civil society community, these women decided to form an organization that would genuinely represent their dreams and aspirations of providing “a home and hope for marginalized women”.

    VISION

    “To unite sex workers; to improve our living and working conditions and to fight for equal access to rights so that sex workers’ human rights are defended and protected.”

    MISSION

    “To work with adult sex workers, organize sex workers claim their rights, call fordecriminalization of adult sex work; promote access to health, legal, and social services; and promote safer sex practices and sex workers’ health and well being.”

    Problem Statement: Why focus on rights of sexworkers?

    Rights Not Rescue: Sex workers are facing a health and human rights crisis in Uganda, yet very little is being done to protect their rights. Research done across Africa shows that the criminalization of sex work leaves sex workers particularly vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse from law enforcement officials and the general public. Sex workers experience routine violence from police, including rape, physical assault, and having their genitals sprayed with pepper-spray.

    In recent engagement of government by sex workers who are members of WONETHA to have sex work decriminalized, sex workers sought to claim their fundamental right to social and economic freedom, equality, dignity, and privacy.

    Why decriminalization?

    Firstly, decriminalization enables the sex industry to be regulated thereby reducing violence against sex workers and cases of human trafficking. It is the oppressors and those committing violence against women who want sex work to remain illegal. Secondly, where sex work is illegal HIV prevalence increases due to difficulties in accessing health care prevention initiatives.

    In the New vision of 19th 05 2009 Dr Kihumuro Apuli, Director of Uganda AIDS Commission stated that HIV prevalence among sex workers is 50% and 10% are male clients between the age of (15-49). As a sex worker Organization we are deeply concerned that this situation is alarming despite Uganda’s role model image in previous years in the fight of HIV & AIDS.

    WONETHA therefore upholds that for sex workers to fully enjoy all their labour-related rights and fundamental freedoms, sex work in Uganda must be decriminalized. Decriminalization will involve the removal of outdated laws which specifically criminalize sex work, enable sexworkers to operate under the same conditions as other workers, and access the same human rights. The sex work industry will be subject to the same laws which apply to all other sectors in Uganda, including existing labour legislation. Other benefits will include;

    • Allowing sex workers to practice their profession openly without fear.
    • Easier access to health care facilities without stigma
    • Reducing the health and life dangers involved in the profession of sex work
    • Allowing sex workers the protection and benefits of the law.
    • More comprehensive health care services for sex workers, including those that address rape, sexual violence, mental health, substance abuse, care of sexworkers who are HIV positive, adolescent health, nutrition and antenatal care/maternal mortality.
    • Freedom to contribute to national tax payment system therefore raising the sex workers self esteem.

    WONETHA emphasizes that the current sex worker situation in Uganda calls for immediate action and if the government does not come out to act then Uganda will lose the battle on HIV/AIDS. As WONETHA we always say that if sexworkers are not safe then no woman is safe.

    For more information contact:

    Kyomya Macklean
    Director
    WONETHA-Uganda
    P.O.Box 31762, Namirembe Rd, K’la
    Tel: +256-414-667-730 / +256 -774-603-754.
    Alt Email: wonetha@gmail.com/ kmacklean@yahoo.com
    URL. www.wonetha.4t.com

  4. Final Project: PROS Network Services Finder App for Android and Mobile Web

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    Abstract
    PROS Network Services Finder is a mobile website / Android application that provides a listing of harm reduction services for sex workers in New York City based on GPS location information. The current services listings are organized under the following categories: harm reduction and syringe exchanges, shelters, legal services, youth services, advocacy and support services. In the next version, the application will include a two-way “bad date list” feature as well as the ability to report instances of violence with a focus on combating police violence.


    Problem Statement

    Sex workers face a number of barriers when accessing services such as mental health care, social services, STI and HIV screenings. The barriers to access of services are exacerbated by pervasive cultural stigma, legal obstacles, poverty, education, and other factors. In Recent years, mobile technology adoption rates have soared in much of the global south. Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS prevalence is highest in these countries. As such, it seems quite a natural progression for those combating the stigma and the virus (through prevention and care) to utilize mobile technology to increase information access and education.

    The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has created an extremely difficult climate for NGOs and NPOs who work with sex worker populations to maintain adequate access to funding in their programs due to the require of the Anti-Prostitution Pledge, essentially silencing them by putting restraints on organizations by requiring them to sign an anti-prostitution pledge regardless of whether prostitution is legal, decriminalized, or illegal by their own local laws. These grassroots agencies and organizations are most equipped to identify victims of trafficking as well as to penetrate this difficult to reach population and provide services. PEPFAR’s policy further discriminates against sex workers. For example, Andrew Hunter of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers noted that doctors are not allowed to answer questions regarding what sex health concerns are medically valid around MSM (men having sex with men) sex work. Denial of services and education are not effective HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment policy, plain and simple.

    Project Statement
    I intend to continue learning about efforts to use SMS and mobile technology as a means for disseminating information around HIV/AIDS in the global south. I will continue to look at existing programs and policies that are working to make change, it seems, outside of PEPFAR funding. I would like to continue this work, examing what has been effective and through my research and prototyping, make recommendations and continue developing technology on this subject to increase HIV/AIDS prevention and services access to marginalized populations, including by not limited to sex workers, primarily in the global south. I would like to test a pilot program in New York City in conjunction with the Bureau of AIDS and the PROS Network (a coalition of service providers and others providing harm reduction services here in New York City.)

    Project Scope
    Phase One – Midterm

    • Utilize SMS to digitize a bad date list with (password protected) access

    Phase Two – Final Project

    • Use geo-tagging and GPS to find the closest health services available to sex workers including reproductive health, STI screening, HIV services, and harm reduction services including safer sex supplies and injection supplies.

    Phase Three

    • Create a tool for organizing for court support, events, and actions– both immediate events and longer term planning
    • Create native app for Android and iPhone

    Related Projects

    • Text to Change: Text to Change (TTC), a non-profit organization in Africa, has been using mobile technology for health education since 2008. TTC has been running a fun, innovative and practical HIV/AIDS education program in three countries — Uganda, Kenya and Namibia. This program not only educates participants about AIDS but also encourages infected patients to seek medical help and adhere to medication.
    • How SMS Could Save Your Life (Wired Magazine): GUGULETHU, South Africa — How do you make the expertise of two doctors and two nurses spread far and wide enough to take care of more than 500 HIV/AIDS patients? In this gritty township, the answer is text messaging.
    • Tactical Technology Collective (TTC) – I put out a call for information to harm reduction and sex worker contacts. I received a report back from the Open Society Institute’s Sexual Health and Rights Project (SHARP) which was commissioned in preparation for a 2007 meeting of sex worker activists. It was written by Melissa Gira and Tactical Technology Collective (TTC) and looks at how sex workers groups are using technology in their work.
      Synopsis: I intend to study how SMS and mobile technology is working in the field of HIV prevention in sex worker populations.
    • The Aphrodite Project – Sexy GPS Shoes – a project that involved ITP students a few years ago.
    • Successful Launch TTC/AIC HIV SMS Quiz Program In Mbarara, Uganda
    • UGANDA: Using mobile phones to fight HIV
      Text to Change (TTC) , an NGO that uses a bulk short message service (SMS) platform for HIV/AIDS education, recently partnered with the AIDS Information Centre in Uganda (AIC) and Celtel, a local mobile phone network, to pilot a project in western Uganda aimed at communicating knowledge about the disease and encouraging subscribers to volunteer for HIV testing.
    • WHO’s HIV/AIDS sex work toolkit
      In many parts of the world, sex workers have been among the groups most vulnerable to and most affected by HIV since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic.
    • Sex Workers and HIV Prevention – Prevention campaigns aimed at sex workers not only reduce the number of HIV infections that result from paid sex; they can also play a vital role in restricting the overall spread of HIV in a country. Proof of this can be seen in countries such as Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic and Thailand, where general reductions in the national HIV prevalence have been largely attributed to HIV prevention initiatives aimed at sex workers and their clients.
    • Ecuador Sex Workers Target HIV-AIDS Prevention – Sex workers in Ecuador are building a national labor network and trying to curb HIV-AIDS, while dealing with the growing presence of minors and undocumented workers in brothels. The first of six stories on Ecuador’s sex industry.
  5. Call For Performers: Sex Worker Cabaret on June 6th!

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    Hi there,

    Celebrate Sex Worker Pride this June at the Sex Worker Cabaret on June 6th at the Slipper Room!

    We are looking for cabaret acts for an early evening (7pm-10pm) of burlesque, performance art, readings, comedy, and musical acts.

    Diversity encouraged! All genders, bodies, ages, and talents welcome to apply. Please submit a short proposal about the type of act or number you’d be interested in doing. If we don’t know one another, please send a link to your website, facebook, etc or a photo.

    We are currently looking for proposals that would be, on some level, about sex work: whether it be a story about your favorite client, a burlesque number to She Works Hard For the Money, or a more abstract interpretation. Preference is given to current/former sex workers (self-defined) but we are also considering submissions from allies, partners of workers, etc.

    Compensation: This is a benefit for…you! Some overhead costs need to be covered but after that, all money received from the door will be pooled and split among the performers based on the number of acts they do. (Each act is a share in the pool with a max of 2 acts per performer.) We ask that you help promote as the more people we bring in, the more money for the performers.

    We are also looking for gogo dancers who would be compensated in tips. You can perform and gogo.

    Please forward to anyone you think might like to be a part of this very special evening.

    Deadline: Please submit your proposal by April 7th.

    Questions? Contact: Sarah Jenny – sarahjenny@gmail.com

    Promoters: Sarah Jenny & Rachel G.

  6. Midpoint Assignment

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    Midpoint assignment: Present your idea(s) for a final project in 5 minutes. You should have a draft problem statement, goal statement and should describe the type of project you want to pursue. As your problem statement should be a social or political problem, you will take this issue on as your case study for the rest of the semester, tracking developments, news and related projects. You will hereafter be required to update the class twice before the end of the semester on your issue and your project.

    Problem Statement Sex workers face a number of barriers when accessing services such as mental health care, social services, STI and HIV screenings. The barriers to access of services are exacerbated by pervasive cultural stigma, legal obstacles, poverty, education, and other factors. In Recent years, mobile technology adoption rates have soared in much of the global south. Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS prevalence is highest in these countries. As such, it seems quite a natural progression for those combating the stigma and the virus (through prevention and care) to utilize mobile technology to increase information access and education.

    The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has created an extremely difficult climate for NGOs and NPOs who work with sex worker populations to maintain adequate access to funding in their programs due to the require of the Anti-Prostitution Pledge, essentially silencing them by putting restraints on organizations by requiring them to sign an anti-prostitution pledge regardless of whether prostitution is legal, decriminalized, or illegal by their own local laws. These grassroots agencies and organizations are most equipped to identify victims of trafficking as well as to penetrate this difficult to reach population and provide services. PEPFAR’s policy further discriminates against sex workers. For example, Andrew Hunter of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers noted that doctors are not allowed to answer questions regarding what sex health concerns are medically valid around MSM (men having sex with men) sex work. Denial of services and education are not effective HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment policy, plain and simple.

    Goal Statement
    I intend to continue learning about efforts to use SMS and mobile technology as a means for disseminating information around HIV/AIDS in the global south. I will continue to look at existing programs and policies that are working to make change, it seems, outside of PEPFAR funding. I would like to continue this work, examing what has been effective and through my research and prototyping, make recommendations and continue developing technology on this subject to increase HIV/AIDS prevention and services access to marginalized populations, including by not limited to sex workers, primarily in the global south. I would like to test a pilot program in New York City in conjunction with the Bureau of AIDS and the PROS Network (a coalition of service providers and others providing harm reduction services here in New York City.)

    Related Projects

    • Text to Change: Text to Change (TTC), a non-profit organization in Africa, has been using mobile technology for health education since 2008. TTC has been running a fun, innovative and practical HIV/AIDS education program in three countries — Uganda, Kenya and Namibia. This program not only educates participants about AIDS but also encourages infected patients to seek medical help and adhere to medication.
    • How SMS Could Save Your Life (Wired Magazine): GUGULETHU, South Africa — How do you make the expertise of two doctors and two nurses spread far and wide enough to take care of more than 500 HIV/AIDS patients? In this gritty township, the answer is text messaging.
    • Tactical Technology Collective (TTC) – I put out a call for information to harm reduction and sex worker contacts. I received a report back from the Open Society Institute’s Sexual Health and Rights Project (SHARP) which was commissioned in preparation for a 2007 meeting of sex worker activists. It was written by Melissa Gira and Tactical Technology Collective (TTC) and looks at how sex workers groups are using technology in their work.
      Synopsis: I intend to study how SMS and mobile technology is working in the field of HIV prevention in sex worker populations.
    • The Aphrodite Project – Sexy GPS Shoes – a project that involved ITP students a few years ago.
    • Successful Launch TTC/AIC HIV SMS Quiz Program In Mbarara, Uganda
    • UGANDA: Using mobile phones to fight HIV
      Text to Change (TTC) , an NGO that uses a bulk short message service (SMS) platform for HIV/AIDS education, recently partnered with the AIDS Information Centre in Uganda (AIC) and Celtel, a local mobile phone network, to pilot a project in western Uganda aimed at communicating knowledge about the disease and encouraging subscribers to volunteer for HIV testing.
    • WHO’s HIV/AIDS sex work toolkit
      In many parts of the world, sex workers have been among the groups most vulnerable to and most affected by HIV since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic.
    • Sex Workers and HIV Prevention – Prevention campaigns aimed at sex workers not only reduce the number of HIV infections that result from paid sex; they can also play a vital role in restricting the overall spread of HIV in a country. Proof of this can be seen in countries such as Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic and Thailand, where general reductions in the national HIV prevalence have been largely attributed to HIV prevention initiatives aimed at sex workers and their clients.

    • Ecuador Sex Workers Target HIV-AIDS Prevention
      – Sex workers in Ecuador are building a national labor network and trying to curb HIV-AIDS, while dealing with the growing presence of minors and undocumented workers in brothels. The first of six stories on Ecuador’s sex industry.
  7. Sex Work Issues and the State Legislative Process

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    Sex Work Issues and the State Legislative Process

    Tuesday , February 23rd, 6:00pm-8:30pm
    Large Conference Room, Urban Justice Center

    123 William St., 16th Fl

    New York, NY 10038

    Ask most people about government and they tend to talk about their federal representatives, the White House, or maybe the Mayor. But the state government may have the most significant impacts on our daily lives, particularly in the realm of criminal justice. This two hour seminar is presented via a partnership of Sex Work Awareness and the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project. In it, sex workers, former sex workers, and allies will learn from a veteran staffer of the state legislature how the legislative process works, how to talk to elected officials about sex work issues, and what opportunities exist to engage with elected officials and affect change in Albany.

    This is a FREE event, but you must RSVP to info@sexworkawareness.org.

    For more information, please contact info@sexworkawareness.org.

    Snacks and coffee will be provided.

  8. Memorial for Catherine Lique

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    Memorial for Catherine Lique, 2009
    12″ x 12″ x 2″

    Plexiglass, LEDs, electronics, audio recording




    This interactive installation appears as a mirror to the viewer. When they step on the pressure sensor, a microcontroller triggers LED lights to backlight the lightbox, revealing the image of Catherine Lique, a sex worker who was killed in 2003. The accompanying audio piece, a first person narrative, tells the story of the life and death of Ms. Lique. The audio, also triggered by the sensor, is programmed to play through Processing. The narrative was written by Catherine’s daughter, Stephanie.

    Memorial for Catherine Lique is the first of a series to honor and remember sex workers who have been victims of violence. The first installation was completed on December 17th, 2009, coinciding with the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers.

    About the Artist: Sarah Jenny is a New York-based multimedia and mixed media artist and masters candidate at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Interactive Telecommunications Program. For more information about the artist and project, please visit www.sarahjenny.org

    Project Construction

    constructing_boxtesting_LEDstesting_LEDs_in_boxwork_areafinal_breadboardfinal_arduinofinal_mirrorfinal_lights_onfinal_insidefinished

  9. ICM and PComp Final Project in Progress

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    Memorial for Catherine

    This piece is in progress. It is an interactive installation which will also have an audio recording (narrative) triggered by the same sensor that triggers the lights. The first person narrative will reveal the life and death of Catherine, a sex worker murdered in 2003.

    This series will be an ongoing memorial for sex workers who have been victims of violence.

    The first draft will be completed on December 17th, 2009 to coincide with the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.