Workshop on Sex Worker Implementation Tool to be held in Georgetown
The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV & AIDS, PANCAP, will be a key stakeholder at the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition SWIT (Sex Worker Implementation Tool) Meeting to be held from October 16 to 20, 2016 in Georgetown, Guyana.
According to Miriam Edwards, Co-chair and Coordinator of the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC), “it is vital that sex workers and sex worker-led groups fully understand the importance of SWIT to creating a safe environment for sex work that is free of stigma and discrimination.”
The Sex Worker Implementation Tool (SWIT) offers practical guidance on effective HIV and STI programming for sex workers. It provides evidence for the necessity of decriminalization of sex work, the involvement of sex workers in developing policy, and the empowerment and self-determination of sex working communities as a fundamental part of the fight against HIV.
SWIT was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is based on WHO’s 2012 recommendations on HIV and Sex Work.
The Co-Chair of the CSWC explained that the idea for the SWIT workshop was generated after Leaders of the CSWC participated in the Global Fund SWIT workshop in October, 2015 in Ecuador as well as additional SWIT training activities earlier in 2015 organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
“Following discussions at the CSWC’s last Regional Meeting, an agreement was formed by a consortium network of sex workers from NSWP (Global Network of Sex Work Projects) that increased awareness of SWIT is crucial to the development of sex workers in the Caribbean’, stated the Co-Chair, ‘CSWC has received the support of NSWP through the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund (RCNF) to convene this 5-day SWIT training in Guyana.”
Director of PANCAP, Dereck Springer, echoes these sentiments and advocates for more attention on the issue of stigma and discrimination within the sex work environment.
“It is imperative that PANCAP attends and supports this workshop since eliminating discrimination against sex workers is a key component of PANCAP’s Justice for All (JFA)’ initiative, stated the PANCAP Director, ‘the JFA advocates for the reduction of stigma and discrimination and the upholding of human rights with particular regard to the right to access HIV prevention, treatment and care.”
“Ending AIDS requires an environment that is free of stigma and discrimination,’ stated the PANCAP Director, ‘key populations such as sex workers are more likely to receive education on HIV/AIDS, as well as prevention tools when there is no fear or being stigmatized. I fully endorse the objective of the SWIT workshop. Sex workers must be cognizant of their role in creating a stigma free environment as well as what actions are pivotal to eliminating the spread of HIV/AIDS in the sex work industry.”
The SWIT Workshop, which will host participants from Guyana, Jamaica, Antigua, Suriname, Trinidad and the Bahamas, aims to provide effective training on the use and implementation of the SWIT with the objective of building the knowledge capacity of sex workers in reducing stigma and discrimination.
(Photo caption: Co-chair and Coordinator of the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition Miriam Edwards)