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International News

THIS IS AN ARCHIVE PAGE FROM 2003-2006. These articles give a small insight into the issues that were impacting upon our peers internationally during that time.

Sex workers shamed on the streets in Southern China border city 29 November 2006

As part of a two-month crackdown on vice in the booming city of Shenzhen, public security officers handcuffed about 100 women and some of their male customers, dressed them in bright yellow prison tunics and hauled them through the streets.

Link to Chinese story or English story, including video footage.

Sex worker scooter protest for decriminalisation 30 April 2006

More than 300 supporters of decriminalizing sex work took part in a scooter parade in Taiwan held by COSWAS yesterday. One of their demands was for the city government to stop using policemen as bait to "fish" for prostitutes engaging in sexual transactions.

"Fishers" is a slang term used by prostitutes to refer to policemen who pretend to be patrons and seek to arrest suspects engaging in illegal sexual transactions.

Supporters also demanded that Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou express his policy on the sex industry by June 15, the date that is designated as Policemen's Day.

go to external website newsarticle

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LGBT activist shot, witness in danger, fear for safety 21 December 2005

Fear for safety: Sulma (legal name Kevin Josué Alegria Robles), other transvestite sex workers in Guatemala City and other members of the Organización de Apoyo a una Sexualidad Integral frente al SIDA, Integral Sexuality AIDS Support Organisation (OASIS)

Killed: Paulina, aged 22 (legal name Juan Pablo Méndez Cartagena).

OASIS worker Transvestite sex worker Sulma (legal name Kevin Robles) was shot in the head, allegedly by police, on 17 December, and remains in hospital in a serious condition. Another transvestite sex worker was killed in the attack. As Sulma witnessed the killing, the attackers are likely to attempt to silence her, but the authorities have not responded to requests to give her protection.

In the early hours of 17 December Sulma was in Zone One of Guatemala City, at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and 11th Street, with another transvestite sex worker, Paulina (legal name Juan Pablo Méndez Cartagena).

Four men on motorbikes, who witnesses say were in police uniform, ordered them to stop, and then shot them. Paulina was hit twice in the head: she died minutes later. Sulma was hit three times but survived, and is in a serious but stable condition in hospital. She can only speak with difficulty, as one of the bullets reportedly smashed all her front teeth.

Several other transvestite sex workers witnessed the shooting, but are reportedly too scared to give testimony, fearing police reprisals. Police have reportedly been patrolling the streets near the shooting, in an apparent effort to intimidate the witnesses.

Since 1999 Sulma has been member of, and worked as a volunteer for, the Guatemala City-based Organización de Apoyo a una Sexualidad Integral frente al SIDA, Integral Sexuality AIDS Support Organisation (OASIS), which works on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and provides support to Lesbian, Gay,Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people. Paulina had started paid work at OASIS in 2004 and since then had only occasionally had to make money as a sex worker.

OASIS has requested police protection for Sulma in hospital and the Human Rights Ombudsman’s office has reportedly requested protection from the Interior Ministry. However, to date no protection has been provided.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION The LGBT community in Guatemala regularly faces attacks and threats. Transvestite sex workers have been particularly vulnerable to attack. Police officers are often allegedly involved, raising fears of a clandestine policy of "social cleansing" within the police force, intended to drive sex workers off the streets. According to OASIS, this year seven transvestite sex workers have been killed on the streets of Guatemala City. Police have intimidated OASIS members many times in an attempt to stop them from carrying out their legitimate work of promoting the rights of Guatemala's LGBT community. In May 2003 two men attempted to kidnap OASIS director Jorge López, but he managed to escape from the car they had forcedhim into. OASIS has often publicly condemned the police for abuses against male, female and transvestite sex workers. In June 2005 Guatemala's Evangelical and Catholic Churches proposed a law that would prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Since then, the number of threats and attacks against the LGBT community has increased. On 7 October transvestite sex worker Michelle (legal name Juan Manuel Villa Soto) died after she was so severely beaten that her head was crushed.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Spanish or your own language:

  • expressing grave concern for the safety of Sulma, other sex workers and members of OASIS;
  • calling on the authorities to take immediate measures to protect Sulma in accordance with her own wishes;
  • calling on the authorities to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the attack against Sulma and Paulina, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice;
  • urging the authorities to take immediate measures to end the intimidation of sex workers and LGBT people; and of those working with OASIS so that they can carry out their lawful activities without fear of intimidation.

APPEALS TO: Minister of the Interior

Ministro de Gobernación

Carlos Vielman

6a.Avenida 4-64, zona 4, nivel 3.Ciudad de Guatemala,


Fax: +502 2362 02 37

Salutation: Estimado Ministro/ Dear Minister Attorney General Fiscal General de la República y jefe del Ministerio Público (Public Prosecutor’s Office) Juan Luis Florido 8a. Avenida 10-67, Zona 1, Tercer Nivel Antiguo Edificio del Banco de los Trabajadores, Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA Fax: +502 2251 2218 Salutation: Estimado Fiscal General/ Dear Sir Director General of the National Civil Director General de la Policía Nacional Civil Edwin Johann Spirisen 6ª Avenida 13-71, Zona 1, 1er nivel, Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA Fax: +502 2251 9382 Salutation: Estimado Director General/ Dear Sir

COPIES TO: Human Rights Procurador Procurador de los Derechos Humanos Dr. Sergio Fernando Morales Alvarado Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos (PDH) 12 Avenida 12-72, zona 1, Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA Fax: +502 2424 1714 Salutation: Señor Procurador/ Dear Sir OASIS (organización de apoyo a una sexualidad Integral Frente al Sida) 6ª AV. 1-63 Zona 1, Ciudad de Guatemala 01001, GUATEMALA Fax: +502 2221 2800 will get a recorded message, press 1 to get fax tone e-mail: and to diplomatic representatives of Guatemala accredited to your country.



HONG KONG 17 December 2005 - Asian sex workers and concerned groups marched Saturday through Hong Kong, where the World Trade Organisation is meeting, to demand an end to violence against prostitutes and protest against poverty which they blame on the WTO. Chanting “Sex Work is Work”, “No Violence”, “No Discrimination against Sex Workers” and “No Poverty”, the protesters (in colourful face masks to conceal their identity and red scarves symbolising power and unity) marched to the Hong Kong police headquarters to the beat of drums. go to external website newsarticle


Murdered prostitute erratic, client tells jury

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - 6 December 2005. A Christchurch prostitute was erratic and appeared to have taken drugs just hours before she was strangled to death, a High Court jury heard today. Prostitute Susie Sutherland also seemed in a hurry to "get the job done", one of her last clients said in evidence at the murder trial of Jule Patrick Burns in the High Court at Christchurch. Burns, 30, denies murdering Ms Sutherland last April 16. The Crown alleges Burns, a South African immigrant, engaged Ms Sutherland for sex but attacked her violently afterwards, leaving his DNA under her fingernails after she scratched him on his neck. Link to full story by New Zealand Herald


Former Indian prostitute vows to fight HIV/AIDS By Krittivas Mukherjee, Reuters

KOLKATA, India, Dec 9 (Reuters) - A former prostitute has taken over as head of a global HIV/AIDS project in eastern India, promising to completely wipe out new infections in one of Asia's biggest red light districts.

Bharati Dey, 40, took over as director of the World Health Organisation-funded HIV/AIDS project for some 6,000 prostitutes of Sonagachi, a teeming red light district in northern Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta.

"My chief goal is to ensure that not a single sex worker offers her service without condoms. We want to bring down the infection rate to zero," Dey, who took over on Dec. 1, told Reuters.


Sex workers in Nepal demand better laws June, 2005

A 3 day national meeting in Nepal (said to be the first of its kind for Nepal) brought together sex workers from 14 districts of Nepal electing an executive committee who will develop a constitution. In the first ever-national convention of its kind in Nepal, female sex workers have demanded legalization of sex trade in the country.

"We have decided to jointly struggle against all unjust treatments towards us by the society."

Go to full story


Sex-workers Network of Bangladesh & Human Rights Coalition-Shonghoti jointly organized a protest rally in Bangladesh capital in May 24, 2005.

Thousands of Sex Workers & Human rights activists participated the rally in central Shahid Minar area capital of Bangladesh. They shouted slogans against US policy to protest the attempt to stop funding against Sex Workers related human rights issues.

In the protest rally speakers said that U.S. anti-HIV/AIDS and anti-trafficking efforts will be severely undermined by policies restricting the range of interventions that can be used to protect the lives and health of women and men in prostitution. They said the Sex worker community would be more vulnerable after this US anti policy. The Sex worker community in Bangladesh will be the worst affected by this US policy.

Now in Bangladesh Government, INGOs supported HIV/AIDS prevention program with Sex Workers intervention. After the US anti Sex Workers policy HIV/AIDS prevention in Bangladesh would be hampered. Sex Workers would become more stigmatized & discriminated against.


The Vatican is calling for clients of prostitutes to not only face legal action but to also receive counseling and other help to stem what it called a form of "modern day slavery."

Go to story on external web site


Sex Workers Threaten To Demonstrate-Ghana March 05

RESIDENTS of Kumasi are bound to witness an amazing demonstration next week as commercial sex workers operating in the Adum area have threatened to take to the streets in the nude to protest against the demolition of two buildings where they operate. They said they intend to match to the offices of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), which carried out the demolition exercise.

The Adum area is notorious for commercial sex operations and the operators have lived there for many years.“We will not sit down for anybody or group of people to deny us of our livelihood. We have no means of livelihood and what work do they want us to do to survive in these harsh economic conditions” one of the prostitutes asked.

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Prostitutes in Tijuana fight, beat City Hall

Hookers organize to stop proposal to ban street walking in revitalized red-light district - Richard Marosi, Los Angeles Times January 23, 2005

Tijuana, Mexico Outside El Burro Bar, Monica and Juana saw the seedy landscape of this border city's red-light district gradually take on a new look with swaying palm trees, pastel-painted hotels and fancy lampposts.

Then city inspectors ordered Monica and Juana and all the other prostitutes off the streets and inside the smoky bars and hotels. The new sidewalks, the inspectors said, were for tourists, not the dozens of hookers who crowd the doorways and sidewalks of Callejon Coahuila.

The women called "las paraditas," or "the little ones who stand" rebelled, triggering a classic only-in-Tijuana civic battle that pitted community leaders against the city's storied and stubborn tradition of vice.

In September, their faces covered with blue handkerchiefs, about 200 prostitutes gathered in La Coahuila, as the red-light district is known, and twice marched across the city in a show of civil disobedience that culminated with a threat to strip on the steps of City Hall. City officials backed down and offered a compromise.

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Brazilian officials lsaid that the country has refused $40 million in U.S. AIDS grants because of a Bush administration requirement that HIV/AIDS organizations seeking funding to provide services in other countries must pledge to oppose commercial sex work the Wall Street Journal reports (Phillips/Moffett, Wall Street Journal, 5/2).

Under the Bush administration policy, even groups whose HIV/AIDS work in other countries has nothing to do with commercial sex workers have to make a written pledge opposing commercial sex work or risk losing federal funding. In addition, the Bush administration might refuse to fund HIV/AIDS groups that do not accept Bush's social agenda on issues such as sexual abstinence and drug use. The new policy stems from two 2003 laws, one involving HIV/AIDS funding and another regarding sex trafficking (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/28).

Brazil Refuses $40M in U.S. AIDS Grants To Protest Policy Requiring Groups To Condemn Commercial Sex Work May 05

Source: Go to full story


Ahmednagar sex workers donate money 21/12/04 full story Sex workers in Ahmednagar and the district have come forward to donate over Rs 13,000 -- their day's earning -- as a humanitarian gesture for those affected by Tsunami tidal waves in southern India.

The women, under the banner of Snehalaya, an organisation working for women in flesh trade and their children, have already sent Rs 10,000 to the Prime Minister's Relief fund, according to Snehalaya trustee P S Savedker.

Further, the prostitutes and flesh workers from various red light areas of the city on Tuesday handed over a cheque of Rs 3,475 to the local Indian Express Citizens Relief Fund branch, he said.

Earlier too, these women have donated to the Kargil Fund and to the Gujarat quake victims.

Raising funds for bar girls and beach workers

The people who were lost in the Tsunami and often not spoken about are the bar girls and beach workers who it is feared will have trouble accessing assistance - especially those who were working in the country illegally - there are people actively collecting money and providing services to these people. If you want to help contact Empower at []


Safety first for migrant sex workers

Bangkok Post - November 10, 2004 Namnueng Supsin Go to story


Sex Workers Launch Hunger Strike

The Korea Times > Nation 11-01-2004 16:55 Go to story


Cambodia PM Opposes Testing Anti-HIV Drug

Associated Press - August 3, 2004 Ker Munthit, Associated Press Writer Go to story


Sex Workers Art Show Tour in Feb/March of 2005

The lineup has historically been a mix of well-known (alumni include Annie Sprinkle, Carol Queen, Scarlot Harlot, Michelle Tea, Margo St.James, Ducky Doolittle), and unknown artists. Go to site

U.S. Backs Off Stipulation on AIDS Funds Plan Had Called for Overseas Groups to Publicly Denounce Sex Trafficking May 18, 2005

The Bush administration pulled back yesterday from a plan that would have required thousands of grass-roots AIDS organizations working overseas and partly funded by U.S. money to publicly declare their opposition to prostitution and sex trafficking.

David Brown, Washington Post Go to full story

Link to database of laws controlling HIV affected populations, including sex workers, link here. The data base is run by Asia Catalyst.