The Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) is an informal network of sex workers and support organizations for sex workers in the Asia & Pacific Region.
Since 1995, two regional meetings were held to facilitate networking among sex workers and the groups that support them. The first one was a symposium on Creating an Asia and Pacific Network of Sex Workers, which was held during the 3rd International Conference on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 1995. The second meeting was a workshop that took place during the 4th ICAAP in Manila, Philippines in 1997. During the 5th ICAAP in Kuala Lumpur in 1999, an informal meeting was organized.
APNSW is also a member of the Coalition of Asia-Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS (Seven Sisters) and an affiliate of the International Network of Sex Workers Project.
APNSW's Priority Issues and Challenges
APNSW uses a human rights framework to advocate on issues that would change the perception of society, the media and authorities towards sex work. In terms of health care services, APNSW would like to advocate that sex workers have access to reliable health care. They would like health care services, including HIV/AIDS testing and treatment be administrated in a confidential manner and would like to be treated with dignity and respect by health care providers. APNSW believes that the challenge of dealing with HIV/AIDS and STDs is best met by co-operation among sex workers and the organizations that support them. Prevention programme must take place in the context of rights and fair treatment of sex workers.
In the area of education, sex workers would like to be given the opportunity to further their education for the purpose of learning new job skills and making contacts with employers in other industries. They would like their children to have access to education as well. For this to happen, they would like a supportive environment where hours are conducive to them. Furthermore, APNSW recognizes the efforts of a number of organizations in the Asia-Pacific region that are helping sex workers upgrade their skills. Some organizations have realized the value of promoting sex workers as peer educators. By training to be peer educators, these sex workers can reach their peers and educate them on safe sex practices, human rights issues and teach them literacy skills. Besides educating their peers, these sex workers can also educate the members of the community such as their clients, the police, the public and media on condom use and fair treatment for sex workers.
Other issues that sex workers would like authorities to address are their basic rights as citizens in their own country. They believe that they should not be denied citizenship if they belong to an ethnic minority group. They also do not want to be discriminated against when they apply for travel documents like visas, loans or housing.