Violence Against Sex Workers: Understanding Safety and Protective Factors

Stream: Sexual Violence Interventions
Date: Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Time: 3.15 pm – 5.00 pm


Violence Against Sex Workers: Understanding Safety and Protective Factors is a regional research initiative conducted in Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka by a unique partnership between sex worker organizations, governments and UN agencies. This award-winning research engaged peer sex worker interviewers to gather data on experiences of physical, emotional, sexual and economic violence in sex work, family and community settings. The findings reveal significant gendered differences in the experiences of male, female and transgender sex workers and that violence critically limits sex workers’ ability to negotiate condom use and protect themselves against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The regional report provides an analysis of common protective strategies and risk factors for exposure to violence, finding that laws, law enforcement practices, sex work settings and collectivization impact sex worker safety. The criminalization of sex work contributes significantly to both an environment of impunity for perpetrators, notably police and clients of sex workers, and to impeding sex workers access to justice. The report recommends: reform to laws, policies and law enforcement practices; improved amongst sex workers; strategies to improve access to justice and services, knowledge of rights and work places interventions to reduce sex workers’ vulnerability to gender-based violence and HIV/STI infection. Concrete actions plans have been developed in the four participating countries to maximise policy and programming opportunities to prevent and address violence against female, male and transgender sex workers.


Julia Cabassi (Presenter), United Nations Population Fund
Julia Cabassi is the Regional HIV Adviser for UNFPA, Asia Pacific Regional Office. Julia is a human rights lawyer with over 20 years experience in health policy, advocacy and programming. Her recent work includes leading development of the The HIV and Sex Work Collection – Innovative responses in Asia and the Pacific and Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific. Julia has extensive experience in international development at global, regional and country level including consultancy with the ICRC, UNDP East and Southern Africa, The Gates Foundation Program, the International AIDS Society and the International Development Law Organization.

Liana Andriyani (Presenter), Sex Workers Organization
Chairman of the National Management Board of Sex Workers Organization, Liana Andriyani started her work as a volunteer. A former National Secretary of the Indonesian Sex Worker Community, she became a leader to enhance the sex worker rights movement in Papua Province. Liana has been actively involved in training and workshops on gender-based violence and sex workers' issues locally and abroad. Her vision is to create a society free from stigma and discrimination against sex workers and to build the capacity of sex workers in Indonesia to stand up for their rights and contribute to the development of the country.