The workshop built on the framework outlined in the well-received FPP (Frontiers Prevention Programme) resource ‘Sex Work, Violence and HIV – a guide for programmes with sex workers’. It aimed to identify practical ways to integrate anti-violence strategies into broader programmes addressing sex work, HIV and sexual health.
The workshop found that violence against sex workers is present everywhere, takes many different forms and is perpetrated by a range of actors. Whilst violence from clients was identified in many places, the most pervasive and persistent violence often came from those charged with ensuring social order and welfare – the police and military.
Community violence fuelled by stigma, especially against male and transgender sex workers, was also widely reported, along with less direct forms of harm – such as refusal of access to services by health care personnel or extortion of earnings by clients, managers or police.
Participants heard presentations from Alliance partners in Cambodia, Senegal, Mexico and Kyrgyzstan on strategies adopted to ensure that HIV programming for sex workers addresses this critical constraint on the lives of sex workers and on the capacity of those working with them to effectively meet their health needs.
Local hosts, the Alliance for AIDS Action, based in Hyderabad, also presented on their work and demonstrated an effective model of decentralised, local level advocacy which gives sex workers the capacity to address issues as they occur in their vicinity.
The prevalence of violence against sex workers in so many locations makes this an issue that needs to be addressed at all levels – from the local to the global. Workshop participants identified practical strategies for themselves, and also came up with an ‘ideal workplan’ for the Alliance secretariat, linking organisations and country offices to build support for comprehensive programming which increases the capacity of sex workers to protect their health and human rights.
A report from the workshop will be released soon.