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in INDIA, 29/07/2012

The Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) and The Global Network of Sex Work Projects is organising the alternative International AIDS Conference in Kolkata, India, called the Sex Worker Freedom Festival, from 21 - 26 July 2012.

Travel restrictions imposed by the US government do not allow sex workers to travel to Washington to attend the International AIDS Conference.

The Sex Worker Freedom Festival is an alternative event for sex workers and allies to protest against this exclusion. For details, please see link: http://www.nswp.org/page/iac-2012-kolkata

Join us at the Sex Worker Freedom Festival. Here is a snapshot of the various activities that we will be involved in.

Policy Discussion

Respected, Not Policed

Co-organised by CREA and Amnesty International

Date: 26 July 2012 | Time: 12 noon – 1:00 pm

This is an open discussion. We ask you to participate and share your experiences and opinions with us.


Sex work is heavily penalised by governments across the world. States stigmatise sex workers as “moral scapegoats” and use mass arrests and brothel raids to exert control over non-normative sexuality. Penalising sex work, however, can violate people’s human rights related to health, bodily integrity, equality and nondiscrimination, autonomy, labour protections, and redress and restitution.


‘Respected, Not Policed’ will stimulate dialogue regarding the wide range of punitive laws and policies that punish sex workers for engaging in transactional sex. Participants will discuss the human rights implications of criminalisation by the State, including violence against sex workers, high rates of HIV transmission, stigma and discrimination. Participants will also discuss local strategies of resistance and meaningful engagement between sex workers and law enforcement. The discussion will further introduce sex workers and their allies to research done by CREA on violence against lesbian, disabled, and sex working women in Bangladesh, India and Nepal, and a new project being launched by Amnesty International, in collaboration with partners across the globe, to devise strategic human rights advocacy strategies to end the illegitimate use of punitive laws and policies to police aspects of sexuality and reproduction.

* Jaime Todd-Gher, Human Rights Advisor/Advocate, Amnesty International
* Debolina Dutta, Program Coordinator, Advocacy and Research, CREA
* Svati Shah, Assistant Professor, Women's, Gender, Sexuality Studies, and Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
* Poornima, DMSC representative

Film Screening

We are Foot Soldiers (26 min)
Co-directed by Debolina Dutta and produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust.
Date: 25 July 2012 | Time: 4:30pm – 6:00 pm


In 2005, children of sex workers in Kolkata's Sonagachi red light district came together to form their own organisation, Amra Padatik, drawing inspiration from the work that their mothers have been doing to demand their right to sex work as work. The film journeys through the lives of five Amra Padatik members. Their entangled realities do not paint a picture of helplessness, but of political assertiveness and social consciousness.

Stereotypical images of their suffering are something that many of them identify with. Yet, far from despair and fear, their responses in the face of adversity are far more complex, hopeful, and strong.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with the protagonists in the film and the filmmakers.


The following CREA publications will be available at the Festival:
* Ain’t I a Woman? A Global Dialogue Between the Sex Worker’s Rights Movement and the Stop Violence Against Women Movement, Bangkok, Thailand, 12-14 March 2009 (2011)
* Free and Equal (2012)
* Sex Work and Women’s Movements (2011)
* The Count Me In! Research Report: Violence Against Disabled, Lesbian, and Sex-Working Women in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal (2012)

- CREA Publications (a compilation of CREA's materials on research and
- Disability, Sexuality and Rights
- Sexuality and Rights

The publications are also available by request. You may contact us at crea@creaworld.org.

E-mail: ddutta@creaworld.org | Mobile: <tel:%2B918800910949>

* Sanjana Gaind, Program Coordinator, Young Women's Feminist Leadership


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