Sex Work Advocacy Network (SWAN)
The main aim of this project is to establish a regional network of contacts working on sex work (SW) advocacy and policy issues, to share experience, to collect and share information and best practices, to raise the advocacy capacity of SWAN members, and through them, capacity of sex workers, and to introduce or strengthen the human rights approach to sex work issues.
SW related issues cannot be addressed effectively without the involvement of sex workers themselves.
Thanks to SWAN, we wish to promote human rights of sex workers, and to create a supportive environment in which sex workers and NGOs working with sex workers can take part in decision-making processes regarding SW issues.
Principles coming from the ‘Sex Work, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia’ report published by the Central and Eastern European Harm Reduction Network (CEEHRN) – July 2005.
II. Sex workers are human beings who have the same human rights as any other people. Sex workers should have the same rights and responsibilities as all other workers, and as every other citizen and resident.
III. Protection of the rights of sex workers is crucial for effective harm reduction, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and others STIs prevention and treatment efforts at all levels – individual, community and national.
To ensure protection of these rights, sex workers should be able to work legally.
IV. Barriers preventing access to health, social, and drug treatment services need to be removed to improve the health and social well-being of sex workers.
V. Activities related to sex work between consenting adults should be decriminalized. All national criminal laws relating to adult prostitution should be repealed. All regional and local regulations targeting sex workers to prosecute the practice of their trade should be repealed.
VI. Sex workers and other community members should have an active role in designing commercial regulations of the sex trade.
VII. Targeted, pragmatic, and comprehensive social programs must be developed in consultation with sex workers and implemented to improve relations between the police and sex workers as well as between sex workers in the community at large.
VIII. Targeted, pragmatic, and comprehensive social programs must be developed and implemented with the involvement of sex workers to raise awareness about safer sex, safer drug use, and HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and support.
Some of the activities organized by A+ during the last three months:
Informative sessions with sex workers (SW)
The aim of the seminars is to inform SW about different topics that are very important for their everyday life, Topics that are practical and necessary. These informal sessions are the only way for them to have information about such issues.
Some of the topics were:
– Sexual transmitted diseases, contraceptive methods
– Information about HIV/AIDS
– Human communication
– Drugs, sex work and other related problems
– Sex work and the gender perspective
– Sexuality and risky behaviors
– Open discussion
– Informing session
– Sharing of experiences
Some other training sessions were held in two other towns of Albania, Fier and Elbasan. Aksion Plus trainers talked extensively on sex workers as one of the most at risk groups that require special attention from both the government and other local NPOs.
Aksion Plus presented some of the preliminary findings of the Mapping of Sex Workers in Tirana that Aksion Plus conducted last year. The PPT took place in a training organized by UNICEF Tirana on “Gender and MARA (most at risk adolescents) – March 2008 in Tirana.
Part of these findings were also presented during the 3rd Balkans regional HIV and AIDS Conference; theme HIV and Gender – creating and enabling environment, held in Sarajevo, March 27-28, 2008 Aine Costigan (UNICEF consultant) and Marina Pema from the Institute of Public Health, Albania used some of the main findings of our Mapping project with MARA sex workers.
Currently two of our clients at the Methadone Maintenance Therapy are from SW groups (transgender). They seek drug treatment but also other type of services and social support. Currently we signed an agreement with the Institute of Public Health for all SW who want to perform HIV/STI tests because of the discriminatory access of SW by other services.
SW have reported an increased violence from clients and other individuals. Some of them were medically assisted at our Harm Reduction Center.
Aksion Plus is one of the members of SWAN.
[table id=1 /]