Terrence McKeegan

News,

UN promotes prostitution as harm reduction

Terrence McKeegan

NEW YORK, February 24 (C-FAM) -  A United Nations agency is actively funding the full legalization of prostitution with the support of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  The agency even partnered with a prostitution advocacy group to co-chair a UN advisory group on HIV and “sex work.”

UNAIDS, a joint program of the major UN agencies, is promoting “sex work” programs under the guise of harm reduction in combating HIV/AIDS and preventing discrimination against vulnerable groups.

One UNAIDS-funded organization is the Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP).  The NSWP is the featured website on the controversial Interagency Youth Working Group, a US-funded project.  The NSWP is described as an “alliance of sex workers and organizations that provide services to sex workers and promote sex workers’ health and human rights.”

On their website, NSWP actually takes credit for the term ‘sex worker’ replacing ‘prostitute’. “More than mere political correctness,” says NSWP,  “this shift in language had the important effect of moving global understandings of sex work toward a labour framework which signposts solutions to many of the problems faced by sex workers. It also questions the stigma of sex work and represents greater recognition of sex workers as rights bearers, with the capacity to make a difference.”

One of NSWP’s major publications is “Making Sex Work Safe.”  The introduction of the publication states, “In general, sex workers have high numbers of sexual partners.  But this in itself does not necessarily increase the chances of becoming infected with HIV.  If condoms are used consistently and correctly, sex workers will not contract HIV – no matter how many clients they have.  This means that sex work can be safe.”

Section 5 of “Making Sex Work Safe”  is called “Safe Commercial Sex”, and features a graphic photo of an educator demonstrating the use of condoms in oral sex.  The section offers the advice that “sex workers need a range of skills that enable them to maximize their income and reduce exposure to HIV.”

In May 2009, the NSWP was appointed to co-chair the UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work with UNAIDS.  Earlier that year, NSWP was instrumental in the issuance of a revised UNAIDS Guidance Note on HIV and Sex Work. 

The introduction to the guidance note highlights a speech UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made to the International AIDS conference in 2008 in which he called for the decriminalization of sex work, drug use, and homosexual sex. “…In most countries, discrimination remains legal against women, men who have sex with men, sex workers, drug users, and ethnic minorities,” said Ban. “This must change. …In countries without laws to protect sex workers, drug users, and men who have sex with men, only a fraction of the population has access to prevention.”

A recent UNAIDS story features a project in Guyana, also funded by the US and the International Labor Organization (ILO), that sponsors sex workers to promote good HIV prevention practices. The story states that the “ILO intends to replicate this partnership with other sex workers’ organizations to reach different groups of workers across the country.”

This article reprinted with permission from www.c-fam.org

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