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Finding a Collective Voice for the Plenary Stage

Posted 28 July 2012, 02:30 A, by Guest

By Cheryl Overs, Senior Research Fellow, Michael Kirby Centre, Monash University

Last year I was refused boarding at Heathrow to go to the U.S., seemingly because there was information “on the system” that said I was a person of moral turpitude. I say seemingly because I don’t really know. U.S. immigration doesn’t explain its decisions. What we do know is that anyone who has worked in the sex industry, even in a legal capacity and even decades ago can be prohibited from entering the U.S. That is enough to make it very dangerous for sex workers to come to the International AIDS Conference by obtaining a visa without admitting to having been involved in the sex industry. So we hatched the idea of a conference hub in Kolkata, amid much debate about the politics of compromise. Those debates will no doubt continue through the conference, and I was delighted to be invited to give a plenary presentation to contribute to them. I am also pleased to have had a visa granted, because I am a person of high moral standing on any analysis and any slur on that is difficult to live with.  More...

Organizer Prepares for Sex Worker Freedom Festival in Kolkata, India

Posted 22 July 2012, 01:54 A, by Guest

By Lakshmi, 34 years old, female sex worker, Ashodaya, Mysore, India

My name is Lakshmi, I am a female sex worker from Mysore, a district in Karnataka, one of the states in southern India. In 2005, a few of us came together when a lady doctor goaded us to and we formed a small organization. We were so scared, but slowly we were able to gather many sex workers and we formed an organization called Ashodaya, our own family of male, female and hijra sex workers.

Slowly but surely, we started mobilizing sex workers and soon we became hundreds and hundreds from a handful. We started a health clinic in our own CBO office and we also started a community kitchen. We also got a drop in centre and soon Ashodaya has become a meeting point for many of our community women and many have become regular after trainings in condom promotion, community mobilization and other HIV-prevention activities. More...

Getting to the heart of the matter: People, Systems and Change

Posted 13 July 2012, 08:11 P, by Guest

By Daniel A. Townsend, International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO) Programme Officer

I have always been sensitive to euphemisms and narratives, especially those which, when used correctly, capture a moment that creates further momentum and progress in responding to an issue.

On the theme of this year’s International AIDS Conference, Turning the Tide Together, I will admit I am slightly indifferent. This is not to say that is not a bold and powerful statement.  It strikes an authoritative tone and it could be exactly the kind of get-it-together-now message that we need. Over thirty years into the epidemic, we can now see tangible outcomes of all our hard work. We have had three decades of twiddling with declarations, designing programmes, identifying and naming groups of people. And we have had successes.More...