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Background

APNSW was established by sex workers in 1994 at the International AIDS Conference held in Yokohama, Japan.

Over the years, APNSW has successfully reached out to sex workers in over 23 countries, and supported the establishment of new sex worker groups, fostered solidarity between groups, established partnerships with other networks, and formalized itself into a registered organization.

The network management is sex worker led, and membership consists primarily of sex worker led organisations. Some civil society organisations who provide rights-based services to sex workers and endorse APNSW’s vision, mission, goals and core values are also members.

APNSW plays a key role in identifying and creating opportunities for sex workers, analysing trends, critically assessing new research and policies, and engages in advocacy with relevant decision makers to improve the lives of sex workers in Asia and the Pacific.

As a network, much of the Secretariat’s work goes into liaising with members in the region; providing information and feedback, moral and technical support, networking and solidarity building, individual coaching, and skills building.

APNSW’s longer term goals are agreed on by a Management Committee (MC), which is elected by and from the membership.

The MC agrees on the network’s strategies and policy and programme priorities, and monitors progress. A small Secretariat, based in Bangkok, is responsible for program implementation, coordination, and communication.

Vision

Recognition of sex work as work and that every sex worker attains the right to protection and participation, built on the foundation of self-determination.

The MC agrees on the network’s strategies and policy and programme priorities, and monitors progress. A small Secretariat, based in Bangkok, is responsible for program implementation, coordination, and communication.

Missions

To represent, mobilise and empower communities of female, male and transgender sex workers in Asia and the Pacific region.

To promote and protect the human rights of sex workers in Asia & the Pacific.

To support the full decriminalization of sex work.

Core Values

Uphold ethical conduct by adhering to organisational policies, and at all times conducting ourselves with integrity in ensuring good financial management and transparency, complying with organisational legal obligations and accountability to members.

Maintain a culture of respect, trust and unity within the sex worker community, through advocating for our members.

Practice and uphold a policy of non-discrimination in all our engagements, including provision of support to members, and recruitment.

In partnership with member organisations, work with other community based regional networks, UN and other international agencies, donors, faith based organisations, and the media to build support and ensure adequate resources are mobilised to support our vision.

Build partnerships with organisations who share our values and promote the human rights of sex workers.

Goals

Create solidarity and promote leadership among female, male, and transgender sex workers in Asia and the Pacific.

Advocate for sex workers rights, including access to confidential, quality and non-discriminatory health services, including HIV, STI and reproductive health.

Build regional mechanisms for influencing policy and programs through the exchange of information and experiences.

Challenge human rights abuses, stigma and discrimination, and the negative portrayal of sex workers and their communities.

Advocate for the removal of punitive laws and policies which deeply affect the dignity, livelihood, working conditions and quality of life of sex workers.

Demands

An end to human rights abuses of sex workers.

Inclusion of sex workers in all forums and decisions that affect us.

An end to violence and discrimination against sex workers and their families.

Access to the same quality of health services available to others including universal access to HIV, TB, Malaria treatment and prevention.

Decriminalisation of sex work and other legal and policy reforms that enable sex workers to work safely and to participate fully as citizens.

History

Below is a summary of some key moments in sex worker history in the Asia Pacific. It is a work in progress, and the list is incomplete.

Contributions are welcome! When was your organisation formed? What have been the key moments so far for sex workers’ rights in your country? Get in touch via facebook, or twitter, or send us an email.

If you are interested in the worldwide history of the sex worker rights movement see the Global NSWP timeline.

Sex Worker History in the Asia Pacific

2002
  • Women’s Network for Unity (WNU) established, Cambodia
  • Supreme Court of Nepal rules that Discrimination Against Sex Workers is Unconstitutional
  • “Making Sex Work Safe” Langkawi, Malaysia
2003
  • Decriminalisation of Sex Work in New Zealand
  • “Making Sex Work Safe” Hong Kong, PRC
2004
  • A Battle Hymn for the Sex Workers’ Revolution
  • International Aids Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand
  • “Making Sex Work Safe” Hyderabad, India
2005
  • International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP 7), Kobe. Japan
  • PEPFAR Anti-Prostitution Pledge introduced
2006
  • APNSW Premiers “One Whore” Advocacy Song at IAC in Toronto, Canada
2007
  • Aids Myanmar Association (AMA) established
  • Global Working Group on HIV and Sex Work Policy meet in Delhi and respond to UNAIDS Guidance Note
2008
  • National Needs Assessment for Sex Workers Living with HIV (Australia)
2009
  • $carlet Timor established in Timor-Leste
2010
  • Trans* Sex Worker Activist Norrie May-Welby Instigates Legal Challenge to Have Gender Recognised as ‘Non-Specific’ (Australia)
  • Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on HIV and Sex Work, Pattaya, Thailand
  • Supreme Court of India recognises sex workers “have the same fundamental rights as others”
2011
  • Hit and Run: the Impact of Anti-trafficking Policy and Practice on Sex Workers’ Human Rights in Thailand
2012
  • Vietnam Network of Sex Workers is Formed
  • Sex Workers Freedom Festival Held in Kolkata, India (alternative IAC) 1st SW-ASEAN Sex
  • Worker Summit (30 sex workers from 8 countries of ASEAN summit in Cambodia)
  • “Yet still we dance”: Exhibition of Artworks from ASEAN Sex Workers
  • “Freedom to Work” Video Series Launched (APNSW videos featuring speakers from the Calcutta Sex Workers Freedom Festival)
2013
  • Vietnam closed Detention Centre Number Five
  • Elections for current APNSW Policy and Program Committee members
2014
  • Meeting of new APNSW PCC and demarcation of new APNSW coordinators to replace Andrew Hunter
  • The Right(s) Evidence: Sex Work, Violence and HIV Research Initiative Receives Robert Carr Research Award (APNSW and partners)
2015
  • APNSW Pacific Members planning meeting
2016
  • APNSW new Management Committee elected

A Selection of Our Recent Achievements

2010

APNSW was the co-organizer with UNFPA and UNAIDS of the landmark Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on HIV and Sex Work (the ‘Pattaya Consultation’). This meeting brought about 50 sex workers around the table with around 90 representatives from UN and governments.

2011

APNSW held in-depth consultations with sex workers from 14 countries in the region as input for a joint regional work plan on Scaling Up Sex Work Interventions in the region.

2014

APNSW has been building the capacity of sex workers in the region by conducting workshops on the Global Fund New Funding Model (NFM) and HIV Treatment Literacy & Advocacy training.

2012

APNSW partnered on the Sex Worker Freedom Festival held in Kolkata. This was an alternative event to the International AIDS conference being held in Washington, USA, which sex workers from around the world were unable to attend due to the USA’s restrictive laws & policies against their work.

Partnerships

Some of the Regional and External Networks we’re Affiliated with

Strategy Plan

Current estimates suggest there are around 4.5 million sex workers in Asia and the Pacific, contributing several percentage points of gross domestic product (GDP) in some countries. Although sex work is a major economic contributor in the region, sex workers in Asia and the Pacific face regular human rights violations ranging from lack of access to the justice system, to unsafe work conditions, forced STI/HIV testing, police abuse, and detention.

Sex work or activities related to sex work are criminalised in almost all countries in Asia and Pacific (with the exception of New Zealand and the state of New South Wales in Australia). Criminalisation contributes to stigma and discrimination, which in turn impacts on HIV response, access to justice, access to healthcare and violence against sex workers. Crucial in addressing all of these, is a human rights based approach to sex work.

APNSW supports female, male, and transgender sex workers to stand up for their rights, and builds bridges with other networks and decision makers to raise awareness on sex worker rights.

Partnerships

Below is the APNSW Management Committee that oversees the network