Category Archives: India
Every other year, AIDS activists everywhere travel far and wide to attend the International AIDS Conference, pushing for access to HIV prevention and treatment for all. The conference hasn’t been in the U.S. for eons, because back in the 80s, a widely reviled individual named Senator Jesse Helms made sure that anyone living with HIV could not enter the country. Two years ago, the HIV travel ban was lifted, and this year, the conference will be in the U.S — in Washington, DC from July 22 to 27.
But this country is still excluding countless people living with HIV.
When people from other countries apply to enter the U.S., even just to attend a conference, they must answer these 2 questions:
- Are you or have you ever been a drug abuser or drug addict?
- Are you coming to the United States to engage in prostitution or unlawful commercialized vice or have you been engaged in prostitution or procuring prostitutes within the past 10 years?
If you know how it is that we humans get HIV, you know that drug use and sex work are among the ways. Why talk about fighting a disease without the people who are dealing with it? This policy cuts out a massive number of people around the world who are living with HIV or at risk for HIV, including those working in the field and organizing for an end to this disease, from going to the International AIDS Conference. In response, drug users and sex workers and their allies around the world have set up hivhumanrightsnow.org to educate the world one blog entry at a time. Drug users and people living with HIV in Eastern Europe will have their own conference in Kiev to strategize the fight against AIDS. Sex workers and their allies will meet in Kolkata.
Tune in to
@HIVhumanRIGHTS for tweets from sex workers, drug users and their allies about what the world needs to do to fight AIDS, and keep checking the blog at hivhumanrightsnow.org for inspiring updates.
SEP. 2007 • Issue 6
In the Bengali language, Durbar means unstoppable. Based in West Bengal, the region of India with the major global city Kolkata (Calcutta), Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, or Durbar for short, is an organization of 65,000 sex workers. Durbar grounds its work in the “3 Rs” – Respect toward sex workers, Reliance on the knowledge of the community of sex workers, and Recognition of sex work as an occupation. In 1999, Durbar took over a government HIV prevention program, the Sonagachi Project, which now has HIV prevention programs in 49 sex work sites and outreach efforts serving 20,000 street workers and their clients. The group also provides low-cost HIV medications at its own clinics, education and vocational programs for sex workers and their children, cultural activities, savings and credit, social marketing of condoms, and self-regulatory boards in sex work sites to prevent trafficking.
The following is an excerpt from Durbar’s policy document on the inclusion of HIV positive sex workers in its work and leadership. It also offers insight into how stigma, violence and criminalization fuel HIV risk. In this document, “+ve” means “HIV positive.” It can be found in its entirety at http://www.durbar.org/new/a011_policy_document_on_psw.html. Continue reading
MSM, HIV and social justice in South Asia
MARCH 2007 • Issue 3
Shivananda Khan, founder and chief executive of the India-based AIDS organization Naz Foundation International (NFI), wrote this essay in 2004 along with NFI legal consultant Aditya Bondyopadhyay and human rights activist Dr. Carol Jenkins. The authors discuss how the frequent violence, including rape, against men who appear to be feminine puts them at increased risk for HIV. The essay refers to men who are “feminized,” meaning they are seen as feminine by other people and not considered real men. It also refers to people who consider themselves to be of a third gender, neither women nor men.
Torture and sexual assault by police personnel of Nyappanahalli police station
(report from a hijra in Bangalore, India. 19/6/04)
Metis attacked by police coming out of a nightclub in Kathmandu
(report from Blue Diamond Society, Kathmandu, Nepal, 15/5/04)
Outreach workers of local MSM sexual health project, and international NGO staff arrested for ‘promoting homosexuality’
(report from 8/7/01, Lucknow, India)
Kothi field staff sexually assaulted by police
(report from Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 15/8/03)
(Note, metis and kothis are local terms used by feminised males who have sex with males in Nepal, and Bangladesh/India respectively for themselves. In Pakistan the term used is zenana.)
It can go on. People abused, violated, arrested, threatened, blackmailed, beaten because they happen to be hijras, kothis, or effeminate gay men. The very state agencies that are meant to protect citizens, actively support, or even directly involve themselves in targeting males who have sex with males, particularly those who are feminised. Continue reading
DECEMBER 2006 • Issue 2
Imposed in 1860 under British imperialism, India’s Section 377 law criminalizes gay sex —and by extension, condom outreach to men who have sex with men (MSMs) and transgender people.
In 2001, police in the city of Lucknow raided and sealed the offices of two NGOs working on HIV interventions with MSM, and arrested four workers. They were charged with conspiring to commit “unnatural sexual acts” under Section 377, were kept in captivity for more than 45 days and were refused bail on two occasions by the lower judiciary before being granted bail by the High Court. One of the arrested was granted bail only in January 2002– more than seven months after he was arrested.
The Naz Foundation, a New Delhi-based AIDS service and advocacy organization, is challenging Section 377 with a lawsuit that has gained influential support as it winds through the courts. As police continue to harass and extort HIV prevention workers, Section 377’s state-mandated homophobic stigma keeps prevention tools away from people at high risk for HIV.
Contact: Kim Mulji, Executive Director, Naz Foundation UK Office: london (at) nfi.net, +44 (0) 20 8563 0191