In the global crisis of violence against women, there is a heated debate about the best way to approach the issues at the intersection of HIV/AIDS and human trafficking. Advocates of “harm elimination” push the abolishment of sexual slavery, trafficking, and prostitution. Those who believe in “harm reduction” are working to ameliorate the HIV/AIDS crisis in a pre-existing negative situation.
Proposition K, San Francisco’s measure to prohibit the use of public funds to enforce laws criminalizing prostitution, would change the landscape for sex workers in the city in critical ways.
Hundreds of women of the 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria have turned to prostitution. But advocates understand it for what it really is – “survival sex.”
Around the world, people turn to sex work in the hopes of earning a living wage – and maybe even to support their families. But misguided policies routinely deny them that right.
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Sex workers’ health care is often sacrificed on the altar of U.S. funding.
Rather than targeting the most at-risk populations, ideological provisions in PEPFAR marginalize sex workers and all women. The next administration can take the ideology out.
HIV prevention programs for sex workers are most effective when they develop trust and affirm dignity. The prostitution pledge puts the best programs at risk.
A leading figure in the Christian right anti-trafficking establishment, Linda Smith embodies the tensions between feminists and religious right activists working on this issue.
Add United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the list of people who understand that arresting and punishing sex workers is counter-productive in the battle against HIV/AIDS. And take the government of Cambodia off that list.