UN, Give Us Condoms!

Source: Meltem Özgenç, “BM bize prevervatif dağıt,” (“UN, Give Us Condoms!”) Hürriyet, 30 November 2013, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/25242745.asp

After the Ministry of Health terminated the distribution of free condoms, Turkey’s sex workers applied to the United Nations: Our Ministry does not give condoms, you should.

Prior to World AIDS Day on 1 December, some sex workers and non-governmental organizations applied to the United Nations with an interesting request. Pink Life LGBTT Solidarity Association submitted the application. Association president Buse Kılıçkaya stated that Turkey received a 3.9 million USD grant in 2006 from the Global Fund and distributed some of this money among relevant associations. Kılıçkaya says, “During that time we also received a lot of condoms. These were distributed to associations. At that time, many sex workers under the risk of contracting HIV felt more at ease.

UNITED NATIONS: WE CANNOT PROVIDE IT

However, the Ministry of Health institutions no longer provide free condoms. Kılıçkaya states that this increases the risk of contraction among people, especially sex workers. To solve the problem, Pink Life applied to the United Nations. Kılıçkaya states that they asked the UN to provide free condoms but “the UN could not fulfill our demand because they do not have such a program.”

“THEY CAN RECEIVE THEM FROM PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTORATES”

The Ministry of Health’s responded to Hürriyet’s question, “Will the distribution of free condom continue, how will the demands of sex workers and other groups be fulfilled,” by stating that the ministry sent free condoms to primary care physicians and that citizens could get condoms from them. Ministry officials also stated that interested associations could apply to Public Health Directorates and get condoms in bulk in exchange of a record.

“THIS IS LEAVING SEX WORKERS TO DEATH”

Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association President Kemal Ördek states that the Ministry’s approach does not solve the problem and that sex workers often face bad treatment in health institutions. Ördek says, “We applied to the Public Health Institution three times but could not get an appointment. They do not want address us. They want to respond to our applications as, “if we meet you or distribute condoms, we would legitimize prostitution.” This is leaving sex workers to death.

“50 WOMEN CONTRACT HIV EVERY HOUR”

According to the official numbers in 2013, 587 people contracted HIV in 6 months in Turkey. Outside of official numbers, it is estimated that 20.000 people live with HIV in Turkey. Ela Aktürkoğlu, the UNAIDS Turkey representative, states that 50 young women contract HIV every hour.

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