Why did the media fail to report on a groundbreaking study on the lives of people working in the sex industry? Asks Sohaila Abdulali
On 30 January, a mesmerizing report was launched at the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV in Bangkok: The Right(s) Evidence—Sex Work, Violence And HIV In Asia: A Multi-Country Qualitative Study. It is a ground-breaking piece of work for several reasons. It involved an unusual collaboration among governments, sex-worker organizations, communities, UN agencies, and regional agencies in Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It is full of fascinating insights into the lives of women, men and transgender people in the sex industry. It finds compelling evidence of widespread violence. It provides thoughtful, evidence-based analysis on causes and possible solutions. It points to a culture of impunity among the police, doctors, and other powerful players that in turn increases the threats of violence, trauma, disease and despair among sex workers, and by extension their families, communities, and customers. It’s full of first-person accounts.