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U.S. | Labor & Workers

Red Umbrellas at Supreme Court:US Supreme Court Hears Anti-Prostitution Pledge/PEPFAR Case
by Carol Leigh (carol [at] bayswan.org)
Monday Apr 22nd, 2013 10:27 AM
Sex workers gather to be a witness and a presence for the Supreme Court. "We stand together to assert that the voices of sex workers from around the globe and those who work to reduce their harm need to be taken into account in the development of legislation and policy that effects sex workers lives, health, safety, and livelihood."
Sex work activists, harm reduction activists, and allies are gathering at the Supreme Court, holding high RED UMBRELLAS, the international symbol of sex workers rights. We gather to be a witness and a presence for the Supreme Court. We stand together to assert that the voices of sex workers from around the globe and those who work to reduce their harm need to be taken into account in the development of legislation and policy that effects sex workers lives, health, safety, and livelihood. We gather to assert that sex work and sex trafficking are not the same thing, and deplore and reject any policy or initiative that seeks to conflate all sex work with sexual slavery. We stand to tell the US Government that we do not accept without protest being shut out of the conversation regarding sex trafficking. We gather to urge the US government to adopt the stance of supporting the decriminalization of Sex Work that has served many countries globally. Evidence-based research has proven that decriminalization of Sex Work is the best route for increasing the health and safety and reducing the harm to those engaged in this labor. "Nothing About Us Without Us!"

For more background information about this case, see this video about the Anti- Prostitution Pledge:

Just Sign on The Dotted Line- The Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath from Carol Leigh on Vimeo.


"Just Sign on The Dotted Line: The Anti Prostitution Loyalty Oath" narrated by Cosi Fabian, presents a history of a policy regulating provision of foreign aid. The policy requires that recipients of USAID funds sign an oath that they will not support sex workers' rights. This policy is a telling example of how the U.S. exports repressive ideologies through conditions set for foreign aid recipients.

"Just Sign on The Dotted Line was compiled for all those interested in sex workers issues and human rights, this video timeline and accompanying resources provide a comprehensive course in the history of, and resistance to "The Pledge."

This compilation of stories and responses is based on important work by organizations including Center for Health and Gender Equity-Change , the Global Network of Sex Worker Projects (http://www.nswp.org) and Asia Pacific Network of Sex Work Projects (http://www.apnsw.org). The movie, "Taking The Pledge,"(http://blip.tv/sexworkerspresent/taking-the-pledge-185356) introduced activists around the world to the effects, and challenges to the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath.

"Call to Action on Sex Work and HIV"

Sign this "Call to Action on Sex Work and HIV" and join sex workers and allies in demanding that the U.S. Government reform laws and policies that harm sex workers domestically and globally, directly inhibiting the fight against HIV/AIDS. Your endorsement will help build a movement for change. Call To Action on Sex Work and HIV. (http://sexworkandhiv.org/)

Important video responses to US funding policies:

Taking The Pledge: The USAID PEPFAR Clause, Sex Work, & HIV Prevention.

More about the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath

Taking the Pledge is a 13-minute film featuring sex workers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Mali, Thailand and more! They describe the problems created by the 'anti-prostitution pledge' required to receive USAID and PEPFAR funds.In English, Khmer, Thai, French, Portuguese and Bengali, with English subtitles.

Study Guide/Curriculum:

Hit and Run: Sex Worker's Research on Anti trafficking in Thailand, a report from Empower Foundation, Thailand This report and accompanying video is crucial in understanding the effects of US policies concerning sex work. "Hit and Run" exposes the impact of law and law enforcement, raids and rescues used against sex workers in Thailand and around the world. "We have now reached a point in history where there are more women in the Thai sex industry who are being abused by anti-trafficking practices than there are women being exploited by traffickers."
http://empowerfoundation.org/index_en.html (download from this page)

Accompanying the report is "LAST RESCUE IN SIAM," the first film ever made by sex workers in Thailand. This short black and white movie was inspired by the tradition of the old silent movies and has had extensive international attention in film festivals and on the web. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70rPAxLFFKU&feature=player_embedded

Bad Rehab is a dark satire, based on the Lady Gaga song, Bad Romance, from APNSW, portraying the real issues for sex workers who are forced into rehabilitation centres in South East Asia- and the anti-trafficking "rescue industry" that has sprung up and campaigns for laws and systems that restrict sex workers and promote further violence against them.

Additional resources:

1. USAID v. AOSI Defending Free Speech for Recipients

2. PEPFAR Watch
An initiative of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), is an information clearinghouse and advocacy tool for the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
http://pepfarwatch.org/ also see genderhealth.org/the_issues/us_foreign_policy/antiprostitution_pledge

AOSI v. USAID_Court Cases
Challenging Global AIDS Funding Restrictions

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice.The Brennan Center represents the Alliance for Open Society International (AOSI), the Open Society Institute, Pathfinder International, the Global Health Council and InterAction in a challenge to the pledge requirement, filed originally on September 23, 2005.

4. Anti-Prostitution Pledge Timeline http://www.traffickingpolicyresearchproject.org/pledge.html