In a semi-lit room of a southern Chennai neighborhood, a group of women sit in a circle around a table surrounded by large cardboard boxes of "Nirodh" – India’s most popular condom.
After living in the shadows, thousands of Nicaraguan sex workers have broken their silence, won support from state institutions and gained new respect for their rights.
Although forced prostitution and trafficking of women remains a huge challenge in India, health experts, policy-makers and legal advocates say that most of the country’s estimated four million commercial sex workers join the trade of their own free will.
Thirty-six-year-old Chameli Devi, a sex worker operating out of New Delhi's G.B. Road - Asia's largest red-light district, housing an estimated 12,000 of India’s three million sex workers – is an unhappy woman these days.
In a country where well over half the population lives on less than two dollars a day, it takes a lot to shock people. The sight of desperate families traveling in search of money and food, whole communities defecating in the open, old women performing back-breaking labour, all this is simply part of life in India, home to 1.2 billion people.
At a time when HIV rates have stabilised or declined elsewhere, the epidemic is still advancing in the Arab world, exacerbated by factors such as political unrest, conflict, poverty and lack of awareness due to social taboos.
International AIDS Conference concluded today as the first in its history that remembered not just the 39 million people worldwide who have died of AIDS but also those who lost their lives in the crashed MH17 flight carrying six of its delegates, one of whom was the past president of the International AIDS Society (IAS).
The movement for reproductive justice sees women’s decision to have – or not have – children as a fundamental right. Should they choose to bear a child, women should have the right to care and provide for them; if they opt not to give birth, family planning services should be made available to enable women to space or prevent pregnancies.
“We are not saying that all people become sex workers, but you make more money,” Virak Horn, a 32-year-old gay sex worker who works freelance in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, tells IPS. He earns enough to support his family and pay for his college degree.
The age-old debate over how to regulate sex work has led to a rift between the United Nations and anti-trafficking organisations, which are pressuring the world body to rethink its position following two reports that advocate decriminalising all aspects of prostitution.
Happiness, the subject of endless philosophical discussions, has now become the focus of controversy in an HIV/AIDS prevention campaign aimed at prostitutes in Brazil. The campaign chief has been booted out and a further question has been raised: What are the limits of popular participation in the definition of public policies?
The underground sex trade is closer to our everyday world than we may think.
Despite the enormous distance between the two countries, Argentina has become an increasingly frequent destination for migrants from the Dominican Republic, especially women, who are vulnerable to falling prey to sexual exploitation networks.
Times are tough in this Southeast Asian nation of 14 million people, where over 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line of a dollar a day. Formal employment is hard to come by and many workers find themselves drifting in the murky waters of the “informal” market, where wages are unregulated and labour laws are seldom honoured.
In a small dingy room on the edge of a brothel in west Kolkata, capital of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, a 42-year-old former sex worker is trying to eke out a living selling cooked food in her neighbourhood, while tending to her sick husband and a paralysed son.
When French police broke up a Nigerian human trafficking ring that allegedly forced young migrant women into prostitution, the arrests cast a sharp light on the plight of what the authorities called “modern-day slaves”, here and throughout Europe.
Bare-chested and beaming in the company of many like him, London-based male sex worker Thierry Schaffauser wipes the beads of sweat trickling down his face on a humid Kolkata evening, and slams U.S. President Barack Obama.
How many condoms is it legal to carry around in your pocket? That’s the question sex workers in the United States are asking after being routinely targeted by police for having prophylactics – not in itself a crime.