Tag: HIV/AIDS

Navigating the References: Part 1

In 2015, Jill McCracken prepared for a TEDx talk on the topic “Selling Sex: Contradicting Violence with Choice” amassing a great deal of the current research on the topic. Later in 2015 Jill joined BPPP’s research advisory committee for the Nothing About Us, Without Us Project, and these references and summaries proved to be an extremely valuable resource as we developed our work on HIV policy and sex worker rights. She has now kindly provided us with a comprehensive blog posting collating key research summaries. We are publishing her post in two parts, the first focusing on the intersections of sex work, HIV and health, and the second part will focus on references referencing trafficking in persons. Jill is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and author of the book Street Sex Workers Discourse.

Navigating the References Connecting Sex Work, Criminalization, and Violence

By Jill McCracken, PhD

You may not learn a great deal of new information in this blog. I say that truthfully and also to acknowledge the incredible work that has and continues to be done and shared within the sex worker rights movement and beyond. As I was compiling these sources and writing the blog, explained more fully below, I was continually hearing myself say, “Well, this is nothing new. This is what we have been saying all along”. And yet, because sources are making this information known through case studies, sites of analysis, research methodologies, and community organizations and perspectives, it becomes extremely helpful to reiterate this information and put it in one place for easy reference; at least it has been helpful for me.

When I found out I was going to give a TEDx talk at the University of South Florida, I was instantly terrified. My terror is usually linked to not only my high expectations for myself, but also my fear of disappointing my audience. And when I considered my fear in relationship to this project (working through my fear has become my new way of being of late), I realized the audience I was most afraid of disappointing was my sex worker and sex worker rights colleagues and organizations. I also knew that in order to give a talk that was worthy of the subject matter: A World Beyond Ourselves, I would need to, once again, rely on my sex worker and sex worker rights colleagues and friends. I therefore went to my many online lists and organizations and asked for help. I also did a great deal of research. Ironically, most, if not all, of this research did not actually make it into the talk, because I later found out that TEDx talks were not meant to include lots of statistics and facts, but rather stories and information the audience can relate to. But what I did find in doing all of that research was that I became even more convinced of my (and many others’) central idea for this talk: that sex work must be decriminalized if we are to reduce violence against sex workers, sex workers must be at the forefront of any discussions about these policies, and that we must focus on a rights-based approach rather than a prosecution or criminal-based approach.

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Criminalization & Violence Undermine HIV Prevention & Human Rights Says New Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASENothingAboutUsWithoutUs

December 11, 2015

Tomorrow at the US Human Rights Network conference in Austin TX, Best Practices Policy Project and Desiree Alliance will be releasing the first ever report in the U.S. on sex workers, rights, and HIV created by sex workers themselves. The first report, Nothing About Us Without Us: Sex Work, Policy, Organizing, Rights, will focus on transgender sex workers.

“Sex workers are part of the solution in addressing HIV, and the U.S. is out of step with global acceptance of the need to bring a human rights focus to the issues of sex work and HIV, while moving away from criminalization,” said Sharmus Outlaw, co-author of the report. “Transgender sex workers are now suffering the effects of the silence about what works to prevent and treat HIV.”

The report finds that the policing of transgender communities is justified in the name of anti-prostitution efforts; and that this policing is directly at odds with scientifically-based HIV prevention and outreach efforts. “All across the U.S., transgender women–especially those of color–are harassed and arrested by police officers as they go about their daily life,” said Monica Jones, a transgender rights organizer from Phoenix, Arizona and advisor to the report. “This policing impacts transgender outreach workers doing essential activities in HIV prevention such as delivering condoms and information to the community. We need to stop the arrest of transgender outreach workers, end the practice of using condoms as evidence, stop policing of medications and end the policing of trans people’s lives so that they can walk down the street and reach health care centers when they need to access HIV related care.”

The report finds transgender people with experience in sex work and the sex trade are much more likely to be living with HIV than transgender people who have never been sex workers, or the general population of the United States. In the District of Columbia, for example, 73% of trans sex workers self report living with HIV. But the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the highest level of policy in the U.S., has been almost entirely silent about sex work and sex work was entirely omitted from the National HIV/AIDS Federal Action Plan released in late 2015.

“As sex workers develop our own research around HIV/AIDS policies, we are connecting with others to rethink and strategize about structural barriers best practices in HIV prevention,” said Cris Sardina of Desiree Alliance. “It is not acceptable to ignore how violence, stigma, and criminalization affect trans women who engage in sex work. Nor can we ignore how policing sex work affects all trans women who are often profiled and arrested as sex workers.”

The report will be released at 3 pm CST December 12 and will be available at http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org/nothing-about-us-without-us/.  The release event will be live streamed on Periscope by @swoplosangeles and social media will use the following #silenceequalsdeath and #advancingrights2015. More information can be found at the Release Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1660187327592533/permalink/1660187340925865/

 

PRESS CONTACTS:
Darby Hickey 202-250-4869 and darbyhickey @ gmail.com

Monica Jones 602-575-9332

Cristine Sardina director @ desireealliance.org

 

Notes of exclusion: the US Conference on AIDS, 2015

Earlier this year the Best Practices Policy Project contacted the organizers of the 19th Annual US Conference on AIDS to inquire as to how we might convene a panel or event about the impact of HIV related issues and policies on sex workers and people in the sex trade. During our initial call, we explained that sex worker lead organizations are now creating the first national level report on these issues and wanted to share our progress during the conference. Despite follow up communications to numerous USCA representatives in the months that followed, we never received any formal reply and not one of our applications for scholarships to attend was successful. The financial barriers to attending are significant: for all intents and purposes costs preclude any member of a sex worker lead organization from attending or even applying to attend. In order to even apply for scholarships, small and minimally funded organizations like BPPP are required to pay a fee of $250 or more. The conference registration fee itself is $800 and a sandwich bought at the conference site costs $18. Even though we received no support to attend some of our representatives–Derek Demeri of New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance, Sharmus Outlaw and members of SWOP USA and chapters–have found a way to enter the event. The USCA belatedly responded to pressure from sex worker organizations to provide space for one panel Sex Worker Visibility and the United States’ National HIV/AIDS Strategy which conference organizers scheduled on the last day of the conference at 8.30 am (Sunday morning). Please join us on social media to learn more about the presentations #nothingaboutuswithoutus #USCA2015 #sexworkerrights
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AIDS2014

An international AIDS Conference was held in Melbourne Australia July 20 to 25, 2014. The Best Practices Policy Project regularly communicated with our colleagues in Australia and other networks to ensure that communities in the US had the most up-to-date information about activities at the IAC. In 2014 the Best Practices Policy Project has publicized opportunities to apply to attend and present at the conference and has made a firm commitment to be part of the Sex Worker Networking Zone in the Global Village with our colleagues at Scarlet Alliance and via our booth US Sex Workers United! in partnership with the Desiree Alliance.

The International AIDS Conference is a very large event and can be daunting. Sex workers have organized protests and actions about specific issues at the conference over the years and have demanded change from the conference itself. If issues emerge that you want to talk about at the IAC or if something concerns you as a community organizer for the rights of sex workers and people in the sex trade then email BPPP (bestpracticespolicyproject @ gmail.com) at any time in the run up to the conference and we will do our best to connect you and to hear what you have to say.

Postings about AIDS2014 include:

http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org/2014/01/29/la-conferencia-internacional-sobre-el-sida/

http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org/2014/01/21/deadlines-approaching-for-the-international-aids-conference-2014/#more-598

http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org/2013/12/08/volunteer-with-bppp-iac2014-outreach/

http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org/2014/07/17/sex-workers-voices-at-aids2014-and-absent/