Statement at the 31st PCB under agenda item 3.0 Strategic Investment
Fundamental to the original vision of a strategic investment framework was that human rights would underpin implementation at country level. We cannot move from this.
We have heard of the success in India where they have reduced HIV prevalence among sex workers to 25% – a reduction of more than half. This has been achieved through collective empowerment of the sex worker community across India and the rolling out and scaling up of sex worker-led interventions. This is a model to be emulated.
The drive to find the most cost-effective interventions should not sacrifice the protection of the human rights of sex workers or other key populations and we must ensure that as part of that drive we do not endorse coercive or compulsory testing or condom programming that is often driven by the target setting of donors.
The Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation (2008) has resulted in the violation of the human rights of sex workers in Cambodia with the arbitrary detention of sex workers and their families who are branded as “pimps and traffickers”, and the lack of access to ARVs for sex workers living with HIV who are detained.
I would welcome more information on the options being explored within Cambodia to offset the effects of this law and improve access to services for sex workers from across all sex work settings.
I sincerely hope that one of the options being considered is a review of the implementation and impact of the law as was committed to by Her Excellency Chuon Ban End, Head of Women Affairs, who committed to a review within two years of the law being introduced in 2008, with a view to amending the law if the review showed it necessary.
We look forward to the repeal of such laws across the world that create such significant barriers to HIV prevention in the context of sex work and the empowerment of sex workers as partners in combatting HIV.
I would encourage everyone here to attend the launch of guidelines developed by WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS and NSWP on Prevention and Treatment of HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections for Sex Workers which provide both good practice and public health recommendations anchored in a human rights framework.