APNSW HR Regional Sex Workers Forum: Summary Report

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APNSW HR Regional Sex Workers Forum
Dates: July: 29, 30, 31 and 1st Aug 2010
Venue: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Summary Report

Some 15 national representatives from 14 countries of APNSW Sex Workers Forum attended a four day workshop entitled the APNSW Human Rights Regional Sex Workers Forum in Kuala Lumpur from July 29, 30, 31 and Aug 1st. National representatives were selected by APNSW members in their respective country.

The national representative from Japan, Yukiko Kaname, although unable to attend, was able to participate live via skype/email and translated with the help of Marisa Ingleton (Australia, Scarlet Alliance).

The sex workers forum was developed to guide broad directions of APNSW in terms of policy and programme. The objectives for the workshop were:

· How to run APNSW and institute governance structured based on APNSW manual, which is a living document. In the coming days we will decide who will be chairperson and three sex workers reps to form the APNSW Programme and Policy Committee (PPC) who will assist the APNSW secretariat in decision making on behalf of the larger sex worker forum. The selected chair and Selvi from APNSW BOD automatically sits on the PPC.
· Understand APNSW’s five year strategic plan (2009 – 2014) and what activities we can now tick off.
· Explanation of the policy shift which has lead to APNSW has lead to new funding including a regional consultation to be held in October in Pattaya (2010)
· Assessment to find out what communication tools we can work together.
· Sharing of country Sex Work and HIV issues at the national level (via film/documenting activity)
· To meet donor requirements of outputs

A. AJWS: Requirement human rights documentation.
B. OSI: Under its sexual health and rights based programme: for us to build capacity in communications.
C. Through UNFPA we now have core funding which pay for the rest of organisational development and capacity building in governance. We have to show that governance structure better now as compared to last year.


Each sex worker representative was filmed answering the following questions for APNSW video documentation.
A. What is the main HR issue for sex workers in your country NOW
B: What is the main HIV related issue NOW.

What emerged as issues from video documenting of HR and HIV were:

HIV sex workers issues; condom as evidence, Islamic laws and religion, lack of epidemiologic data related to sex workers, police violence however what came out very strongly was the anti- trafficking/law/migration where sex work is considered violence and anti trafficking laws are seen as human rights law. This is the most critical issue as the sex workers movement is being targeted and the anti trafficking movement is getting more organized.

Andrew Hunter explained the policy shift which has lead to APNSW securing funding including for a regional consultation to be held in October in Pattaya (2010). UNFPA is the lead agency on sex work and received 8mil for 50 countries to do HIV work. If you exclude salaries, only USD 400,000 to communities most like going to condom programme in country to effectively impose the 100% condom policy which APNSW opposed. There was a change in leadership and hence a change in policy. APNSW was then able to demand that a new committee be established (UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work) which Global Network of Sex Work Projects is able to co chair. Now UNFPA has agreed regional SW network as reps of sex workers in developing HIV policy. The response to HIV must be grounded in the human rights of sex workers being protected. Policy at global may be good but it is the country where the change must happen to make a difference for sex workers.

What is The Global Fund? Principal recipient (PR) receives money. SR is sub recipient and different SR for different programmes like for MSM, IDUs. SSR is sub sub recipient or implementing partners. The Global Fund works with country coordinating mechanisms (CCM), a committee with members of policy experts and
Ministry of Health and they write proposals, so the Global Fund does not tell them what to do. There is now mobilizing around changing the Global Fund and lobbying to scale up funding for sex work we should be part of that.

At country level, we need to mobilize resources to do programming. The Global Fund is not the biggest donor but sets the policy agenda and makes counter balance to the anti sex work policy. A large amount of the funding from Global Fund comes from the US government. No conditionality with Global Fund monies. Countries present which received money from the Global Fund are: Thailand, Bangladesh and Myanmar and India.

We are only the Region, where top epidemologist have put reports, Commission on AIDS on Asia and Pacifi together to assess how much money needed to reduce HIV epidemic. Every country needs to spend 60% of HIV budget on sex industry to get the best impact. If all the right lobbying and behind scenes happen, we may very well witness an increase in funding in Asia from the current USD$ 30 million dollars to a couple of billions. And so the biggest challenge, is that so we may not be ready, and we don’t want funds to go to big INGOs. We are lobbying for scaling up, but we, the community and sex workers organizations too must also be “be scaling” and be ready. There are different successful models, for example, the way Swing and Empower have quickly spread out their programming. Top programme in Burma, have managed to spread sex worker led HIV programme.

Part of UNFPA core funding is for APNSW to work with UNFPA to do regional consultation. It’s a first of many and this time in over 8 countries: Thailand,
Myanmar, Indonesia, China, PNG Pakistan, Fiji nd Cambodia. The goal of consultation is especially for sex workers from organizations active in HIV work to
work with people in government, UN people and civil society. So there is a country delegation that will attend. APNSW groups get to select the sex workers who attend this consultation rather than the UN agencies. The idea for the Regional Consultation is to bring countries who in the midst of reviewing their National HIV Strategic plan next year so that we have time for follow up at country level after the Regional Consultation. This consultation is for 4 days (October 12-15th) and APNSW is holding a 2 day pre-meeting before to prepare sex workers and to strategize for donors etc, and we need to look organized. The APNSW representatives should demand USD$3 billion dollar for the region but we also need to know how to manage and run HIV programmes and who are the organizations we want to partner with.

Main points from Anti trafficking Discussion

Challenges Identified

 Feminists in key positions are CAATW
 Anti trafficking laws work against sex work. Traffickers are normally syndicates, organized, not sex workers
 Police involvement in trafficking (in Malaysia)
 Fiji: syndicated trafficking had lead to the blaming of sex workers
 Misinformation to support anti trafficking agenda
 Pressures from global funders (PEPFAR) on UN agencies and governments that support anti trafficking movement.


 Expose anti-trafficking Industry
 Use drama to educate public
 Prepare media releases with strong messages, great visuals
 Documentaries
 A global action day built around coordinated media stories, reports and action.


Sex workers forum Elections of Chair and Programme and Policy Committee

APNSW need to select 5 members for the executive position on programme and policy committee. As Bod member Selvi is also respresented (to ensure there is link between the committee and BoD) and the elected chair, only 3 members will be selected from the rest of the group tomorrow. We currently have 16 sex worker representative (2 from India) across 15 countries. However, three of the sex worker representative are not able to attend because of difficulty getting visa and passport.  They are Yuki (Japan), Savithi (KSWP, India) and Shobana (Vamp, India). Savithi and Shobana have proxy participation from Dil Faraz and Meenashi.

APNSW legally registered in Malaysians with 2 persons BOD, Selvi and Sulestri. The BoD passed resolution that powers over policy and programme direction will be handed to the executive, programmes and policy committee. BoD will continue to oversea the finances and audit under the Companies Act of Malaysia. BoD member also part of the forum to ensure better governance and the bridging voice. Legal BoD has to have AGM once a year. The committee members elected should also come to make it more transparent and advisable to have back to back meetings for cost savings.

Some discussions ensued on what would be the ideal number for the programme and policy committee and should there be more than 5 as currently stated in the
manual? It was suggested should be odd number to facilitate voting (if need arises) so it should be either 5 or 7. It has been estimated that the cost per pax But 7 is cost prohibitive and will put pressure on resourcing. So decision was to leave it at 5.

Nominations: decision that it would be free of criteria listed in the manual but of course when members voting should consider criteria of gender balance and geographical representation. There was a suggestion that persons nominated/elected should have the capability to do policy work. It was decided that
for the nomination of the committee, nominees can be self nominated or a sex worker representative can nominate. There is likely to be better accountability if self nominated.

There will be a first face to face meeting for committee members elected later this year. By October, we should know what budget is for next year and the group can decide how to allocate resources. We need to balance our resources between the delivery of the regional programme and that towards governance. What percentage is ethical for spending on programmes vs governance structure. Andrew suggested standards around the globe be that at least 70% on programmes and minimize spending monies on meeting.

Decisions around selection of Chair

Criteria for ideal chair

 Public face: this forum provides the protection for the elected chair who will have to weigh the risks and benefits of having a public face.
 Not based on rules of nationality, e.g migrant sex worker can also be nominated
 The person has to be a forum member but not represented organization or country. So if forum member withdraws, we cannot pass the position to the organization
 For the Chair to be effective, how much time will she or he have to devote to the role? It is a volunteer position and you must ensure you have a “cooperative employer”, which is NGO run like for in say delivering peer educator services. For example, Selvi had to take unpaid days off because she works for local NGO. The work entails devoting at least 3-4 days a month. If that person had to be on international meeting, wifi access will be paid, eg communication support.
 Eg For ICAAP, priority money raised should be for chair. Say we raised money for 2 people, the priority for chair. It has implication on resources and how allocated.
 The Chair should be from a developing nation. (to be added to manual with wording that chair must from someone from the Global South).
 What about if Chair is sick? Then someone from the five member committee can take over.

Process of Nomination of Chair

Many joined as APNSW members but did not have a sex worker rep. Only 15 countries have reps on the forum and only Japan isn’t represented on the forum at
this workshop. Zeeba is here as interim rep because still no election in Pakistan so she cant vote. Floor open for nomination. Someone can nominate and or self nominate.

To be eligible, you must have 2 persons, one to propose and one to support. Proxy reprsentatives cannot vote and votes from actual sex workers reps from India and Japan must secured v via skpe, email,smes or phone call (out speaker phone ) so we can have recorded evidence.

1. Catherine (NZ) proposed Kay Ti (Myanmar) and Hazeera (Bangladesh) supports i. Selvi (BoD) also supports.
2. Daera (PNG) proposed Aldo. Sheena supports Aldo.
3. Marisa proposed Wi and she didn’t receive support.

Election via secret ballot then took place.


Kay Ti won the most votes and is now chair of APNSW

Elections for 3 persons to join Programme and Policy Committee

Nine candidates - Self nomination. They were: Nay Heng (Cambodia, M), Catherine (New Zealand, F) Hazeera (Bangladesh f),Wi ( Thailand, F),Sheena ( Fiji,
transgender),Aldo ( Indonesia, M), Marisa (Australia, F), Shabana ( India, F) Savitha (India, Transgender).

Started voting and all were given five minutes to fill ballot. Yuki (Japan) got her ballot via email but for Indian representative, sms and calls were made and for proxy to tick. The response email back emailed back to Marissa and CCed to Raju.  Counting begin and votes put on paper. The final tally was then displayed for all to see and the top three by number of votes were: Aldo (Indonesia, M), Sheena (Fiji, transgender) and Hazeera (Bangladesh, female).

All agreed it was a good outcome as both gender( transgender, female and male) and geographical representation (SE Asia, Pacific and South Asia) criteria was fulfilled. We also had a HIV positive representation with Aldo.

Kay Ti, the Chair declared results final and that APNSW now have had a five member PPC. Selvi, from the legal board declared and passed the motion that the executive powers now be transferred to the new executive body , the PPC. Andrew also shared that APNSW would now be considered one of the most participatory and democratic network in the region.

Strategic Plan (2009-2014)

This document was developed first in 2000 and then reworked in 2003 and activities are grouped according to the five objectives. The implementation section was based on activities we could secure funding for. We can still add activities if identified it would help more than country partners in terms of meeting objectives.

The End

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