Enabling voices to be heard
Press Release , Kolkata, 26 July, 2012
On the fifth and penultimate day of the International AIDS Conference Hub in Kolkata, sex workers from 46 countries released the Kolkata Platform of Action, to take forward the “fight against exclusion” and “discriminatory practices against sex workers and other most at risk communities.”
The Kolkata Platform of Action was formally released by Ms. Bharati Dey, President, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) and Mr. Andrew Hunter, President, Asia Pacific Network of Sex Worker (APNSW) Launching the Kolkata Platform of Action at the Sex Workers Freedom Festival here, Mr. Andrew Hunter, President, Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) stated that “the sex workers organizations around the world are affirming their faith in three core values.” “De-criminalize sex work, accept sex work as work and their right to self organization and self determination,” he added.
“Eight freedoms encompassing right to form associations, choose work, move and migrate, be protected by law, be free of violence, abuse and discrimination, access quality healthcare and financial security are necessary pre-conditions to an effective HIV response spearheaded by sex workers worldwide,” asserted Dr. Smarajit Jana, Chair, Global Hub. “These freedoms allow us to meaningfully participate in the fight to end AIDS,” re-emphasized Ms. Bhagyalakshmi, President, All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW). “This is the first-ever kind of meeting with sex workers from so many countries coming together. We also saw different movements coming together and our own networks getting strengthened.
Baba Adav, noted social campaigner of unorganised labour and Nikhil Dey, a well known RTI activist have come here personally to support our cause,” added Swapna Gayen, DMSC The U.S. policy on sex work and HIV, banning the entry of sex workers and using the anti-prostitution pledge to justify punitive action against sex workers, was encouraging many governments to use anti-trafficking laws to criminalize sex work stated leading social activists
Ms. Meena Seshu and Ms. Anna Pickering and New Zealand. “We urge policy makers to ensure that sex workers have the freedom to equal protection under the law, which includes working without criminal laws and penalties,” they affirmed jointly. “In several countries judiciary has taken a lead to re-look at the repressive policies against sex workers and India too should take their example to decriminalize sex work,” added Meena Seshu.
Representatives from Ministry of Health, NACO, Ministry of Women and Child Development and many funding organisations like UNAIDS, HIVOS AIDS Fond and others participated and supported the conference which concludes tomorrow. Speaking on behalf of Positive Sex workers and People living with HIV about the ongoing negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and European Union, Mr. John Mathenge and Ms. Pherister Wamboi, from Kenya expressed concern that this agreement has Intellectual Property Enforcement provision that have been deliberately designed to delay the entry of affordable generic medicines which will adversely affect all people living with HIV as the “medicines will get blocked at the European ports and not reach the patients in Africa and the rest of the world.”
Taking this forward, Jai Prakash, Delhi Network of Positive People stated that, “with India, being the world's biggest exporters of generic medicines, often referred to as the pharmacy of the developing world, the agreement aims at stamping out our access to generic medicines.” “Without worker solidarity we cannot put an end to exploitation and abuse, not only in the sex industry but in every workplace,” stated Ms. Irina Moslova, Mr. Luca Stevenson and Dr. Smarajit Jana representing sex worker collectives from Russia, France and India respectively and Ms. Ruth Morgan Thomas, Global Coordinator of NSWP. They called upon organizations representing women, labour and trade unions, harm reduction and HIV prevention programmes to “listen to the voice of sex workers and build alliances with us so we can achieve the recognition of sex work as work.”
Press release prepared by CFAR
For details contact Dr Jana at 96741 62101 or David 098455 69496