47th PCB - Intervention by Jules Kim - Agenda item 11: Report of the PCB Working Group on the Joint Inspection Unit Management and Administration Review of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

Delivered by Jules Kim, Asia and the Pacific

This statement is delivered on behalf of the NGO Delegation and in support of the statements by Frontline AIDS, AIDS Action Europe, Aidsfonds and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) and in support of the revised guiding principles and the recommended amendments to DP 13.7 calling on the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS speak with one voice, respecting its guiding principles, and acting to protect, respect and fulfil the human rights of all.

Today is International Day to End Violence against sex workers. It is a day where we commemorate the lives of sex workers lost to violence. There is not a sex worker in the world who’s life has not been touched by violence. And this has been heightened during the COVID pandemic

Today sex workers globally stand collectively to remember

  • the violence perpetrated against ourselves and our friends, families and children just because of our occupation
  • the systemic barriers that prevent us from accessing essential HIV prevention services, testing, treatment, support and care

Today we remember other sex workers no longer with us and we stop the silencing of us by the systems that take advantage of the stigma and discrimination that invisibilises us and ignores our agency, voices and lived realities.

It is a day when we affirm that sex work is work and recognise that we are a community disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic. This cannot and will not change without the end to the state sanctioned violence against us through the criminalisation of our work. Evidence definitively supports that decriminalisation of sex work will and does reduce HIV rates and risk and is the single intervention that would have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings for all sex workers regardless of how we ended up in sex work.

So today on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers we call for the recognition of sex worker rights as an essential step in ending gender-based violence, a key driver of HIV among women and key populations. We demand that the violence against us enacted by the discriminatory laws and policies against us ends and we call on the UNAIDS Joint Programme including its cosponsors not act to perpetuate this violence against us.

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