2009 – $carlet Timor established in Timor-Leste

$carlet Timor is a national sex worker collective based in Dili, Timor-Leste, and formed officially in 2009.   The network is peer-based and includes female, male and trans* members. $carlet Timor has worked in a capacity development partnership with Scarlet Alliance, the Australian sex workers association, and Timorese NGO Fundasaun Timor Hari’i (FTH), to become a respected advocacy and service provision organisation.

photos of people carrying banners saying "Scarlet Timor Collective - together our nation will be strong"
May Day activities 2014, Dili, Timor-Leste

Prior to the formation of $carlet Timor, Timorese sex workers self-organised informal peer networks which involved sharing information about problematic clients, policing issues and the informal distribution of safer sex prophylactics. However, it was not until 2008 that Timorese sex workers began to engage in formal peer education initiatives through FTH. Following a scoping trip to Timor Leste in 2009, Scarlet Alliance worked with local sex workers to facilitate a national meeting to gauge sex workers’ interest in creating a national peer network.

Throughout 2009 a number of follow-up workshops were held in the nation’s capital, Dili – with support from FTH including providing $carlet Timor with office space. The purpose of the workshops was to develop a governance structure for the organisation and to identify locally appropriate advocacy strategies on which the organisation aimed to focus.

Subsequently, $carlet Timor has worked in partnership with national and international stakeholders including, the Timor Leste National AIDS Commission (KLNS-NAC), the Global Fund’s Timor Leste Country Coordination Mechanism, the Timor Leste Confederation of Trade Unions KSTL HIV/AIDS Taskforce, and the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW).

$carlet Timor has also participated in Sex Workers of ASEAN (SW-ASEAN) activities, including an art exhibition in Bangkok. (Timor-Leste has held observer status in the Association of South East Asian Nations, ASEAN, since the county’s independence in 2002 and seeks full membership.)