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13/10/2012 - Other news

A process that included the voices of female sex workers

UNAIDS Guidance Note on HIV and Sex Work —published in 2009— was updated in April 2012 with the contribution of female sex workers.

The guidelines argue the importance of working on human rights of female sex workers, to eradicate stigma and discrimination.

These guidelines were published only in English so that Corresponsales Clave translated and analyzed the key points of the new UNAIDS Guidance Note on HIV and Sex Work.

The key points addressed by Corresponsales are:

1) The legal and policy environment for sex work, including criminal and other laws affecting sex workers.

2) Shifting the strategic focus from reduction of demand for sex work to reduction of demand for unprotected paid sex.

3) The problematic conflation of sex work and trafficking.

4) Economic empowerment of sex workers.

In the first issue, legal environment was analyzed. Based on the idea that punitive laws must be amended, the guides promote greater participation of female sex workers on the review of laws and policies that currently impede access to HIV services.

In addition to an analysis of the current situation, the publication provides recommendations for national states, as Corresponsales explained:

  • Moving away from criminalizing sex work or activities associated with it.
  • Ensuring sex workers are not subjected to mandatory HIV testing and have unimpeded access to all HIV prevention.
  • Enabling sex workers to enjoy work-related protections like other workers.
  • Supporting sex workers’ access to legal services and mechanisms of accountability for police abuse, so as to facilitate reduction of sex work-related stigma.

In the second article by Corresponsales, the prevention and the needed change of view were approached, arguing that criminalizing clients does not resolve the issue, but that "Reducing demand is criminalizing sex workers, pushing to the margins an activity which should be regulated", the website explains.

This article highlights another fundamental issue for sex work: condoms are essential, but not enough. Prevention should involve empowering of female sex workers to protect themselves and protect others from HIV infection.

We expect next posts of Corresponsales to share. They will address problems occasioned by equating trafficking and sex work, and on the other hand the economic empowerment of sex workers.