Regulations Leave Sex Workers Unprotected against HIV

Source: “Yasalar Seks İşçilerini HIV’e Karşı Korumasız Bırakıyor,” (“Regulations Leave Sex Workers Unprotected against HIV,”) Bianet, 02 December 2013, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/toplum/151735-yasalar-seks-iscilerini-hiv-e-karsi-korumasiz-birakiyor

On December 1st World AIDS Day, the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association pointed out that sex workers are one of the important vulnerable groups that must be reached regarding HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The association has called on the government to form inexpensive, accessible and inclusive services which are suitable for the special needs of sex workers for protection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The statement covers the following issues:

“Sex workers have to spend the limited money which is barely earned on protection means such as condoms and lubricants because the government avoids to give them for free. Some sex workers cannot even reach such means because of their limited income.

“As Red Umbrella, we have tried to get in touch with the Public Health Directorates many times since the foundation of the association in April, 2013. We have conveyed the fragile situation of sex workers against STDs; we wanted to hold a meeting about the issue and indicated the need to have free access to protection means. So far there has been no answer. Even this example shows the troubled relation of the government with the sex workers in terms of HIV and other STDs. The Ministry of Health leaves sex workers to death regarding HIV and other STDs.

“Sex workers working on the streets do not have the chance to negotiate on the use of condoms with their clients because of the fear of police raids. Sex workers who have to work on the streets and elsewhere since the closure of brothels do not have access to protection means. Sex workers who grapple with poverty and who are constantly imposed punitive fines based on the Law of Misdemeanors cannot resist to their clients’ demands for not using condoms because of the fact that they need to earn money. The regulations leave sex workers unprotected against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“We demand a health system that is designed according to the male/ female/ trans sex workers’ special needs, where it is easy and inexpensive to reach anti-retroviral treatments and medications, where sex workers are not imposed to discriminatory attitudes and behaviors. We want the legislation on sex-work that leaves sex workers vulnerable to HIV and other STDs to change and we demand the decriminalization of sex-work. We demand special programs to be formed for those who are in urgent need of treatment and have restricted access to treatment services. We want the government to leave their moralist, sexist, and last but not least their anti-sex-work attitude regarding STDs, especially on HIV and AIDS behind.

“The right to health is a holy right and sex workers also have right to benefit from health services as much as other citizens!”

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