Fair treatment for sex workers
Sex workers in the Caribbean want to be treated fairly and given the same respect as other people involved in demanding professions.
Miriam Edwards, president of the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition, Kay Forte of Guyana and Claudette Johnson of Jamaica, as well as Ivan Cruickshank of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition made the cal at the closing ceremony of the Sex Work And HIV TechnicalWorking Group meeting put on by UNAIDS.
Edwards says her organisation, which had members in 13 Caribbean countries, is battling for sex workers’ voices to be heard in order for the legal framework to be instituted for such them to obtain the medical and other necessary services.
“We need to accept sex workers as human beings and we want the same level of treatment and service when we come forward as anyone else,” Edwards says. she also warns that it is pointless setting up programmes for a few sex workers and prefacing the offer with the command that they must give up their profession in order to get funding for education or skills training.
The trio later met with Minister of Health Donville Inniss, who had earlier delivered the closing address at the session. “It is not for me to deliberate on the morality or illegality of sex work in the Caribbean, but rather it is for me to face reality. We will not, certainly at the policy level, move ahead if we start by operating with any stigma attached to the issue of sex workers or if we start to bring our own prejudices to the table and bury our heads in the sand and pretend that such a thing does not exist. In addition, the increased risk of HIV transmission which may be found in some informal and formal sex work contexts heightens the need to take definitive steps to reduce the risk of transmission in these settings,” Inniss adds.
Inniss says “the provision of universal access for sex workers will demand a coordinated and concerted effort, which will involve the adept synchronisation and mobilisation of financial