Surang Janyam Wins Human Rights Defenders Award

In 2009, Surang Janyam, Director of the Service Workers In Group (SWING) Foundation, Thailand, was awarded the Human Rights Defenders Award by the Thai National Human Rights Commission.

Ms. Janyam is a co-founder of SWING, a sex worker network established in 2004, which provides support, education, referral, counselling, outreach, and advocacy to male and trans* sex workers.

Prior to her work with SWING, Ms. Janyam was engaged with the national Thai women’s’ sex worker network, the EMPOWER Foundation for 17 years. However, through her work in advocating for the rights of male and trans* sex workers, the Thai National Human Rights Commission recognised the contribution Ms. Janyam has made to highlighting the issues affecting the community and her efforts to engage peers in the development of a grassroots sex worker network, ‘by and for’ male and trans* sex workers.

Outdoor group photo featuring Surang Janyam, SWING staff and Thai police cadets
Surang Janyam with SWING staff and Thai Police

Through the SWING forum, Ms Janyam has been active in building and promoting a peer-staffed service with centers in 3 of Thailand’s sex industry ‘hot spots.’

SWING has undertaken unique training projects with the Thai police to sensitise their attitudes towards the issues impacting on sex workers, including challenging the impact of policy and legislation in the criminalisation of sex work and institutionalised homophobia.

As a recipient of the award, Ms. Janyam was also recognised for the work she has undertaken in highlighting the human rights issues impacting on male and trans* sex workers, including gender identity and homophobia, occupational health and safety rights, and sexual health awareness/ reproductive rights.