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UN Report Calls for Decriminalization of Prostitution in Asia

Results of the first U.N. study examining how the criminalization of prostitution has affected the lives of sex workers across Asia and worsened HIV epidemics have been released.

Aishwarya Gupta

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Results of the first U.N. study examining how the criminalization of prostitution has affected the lives of sex workers across Asia and worsened HIV epidemics have been released.

The U.N. surveyed sex workers in 48 countries across Asia to determine how prostitution laws affect the safety and health of prostitutes and their families.

Lack of rights and HIV protection

“On the one hand, you spend millions of dollars providing condoms to prevent HIV transmission, and then on the other hand you have police confiscating condoms or using condoms as evidence to arrest or harass sex workers. It is an absurd contradiction that is costing people’s lives,” said Dhaliwal.

Noi Chantawipa Apisuk runs a foundation for sex workers in Thailand called EMPOWER. She says sex workers in the country can earn enough money to support their families, but they lack the legal protections given to workers in other industries. She has been lobbying the Thai government to change that.

“Sex work is work, and entertainment work is business,” she said. “Entertainment workers are protected under the labor law, like manufacturing sector workers, agricultural sector workers. So if we recognize it, if they have problems it can be solved by employer and employee in the labor court rather than go to the police.”

Researchers say in places where prostitution is banned, sex workers are especially vulnerable because their work is stigmatized and illegal. They argue that removing legal penalties for prostitution allows for better access to health checkups and treatment programs.

The acting director of the U.N. HIV Health and Development Practice, Dr. Mandeep Dhaliwal, says there is evidence some governments are making progress towards changing laws that are hampering effective HIV prevention.

She applauded Vietnam and China for stopping programs that detained sex workers and their children. In Cambodia and Burma, governments have asked police to stop harassing prostitutes. But she says there are still many contradictory policies that pose public health risks.

“On the one hand, you spend millions of dollars providing condoms to prevent HIV transmission, and then on the other hand you have police confiscating condoms or using condoms as evidence to arrest or harass sex workers. It is an absurd contradiction that is costing people’s lives,” said Dhaliwal.

Less punitive approach

Human rights lawyer and author of the report John Godwin says countries that endorse a less punitive approach also minimize human-rights violations and health risks. He says grass roots efforts to work with police and local authorities are making progress in carving out a healthy work environment for sex workers.

“Initiatives that are community led, who are actually organizing themselves to have a dialogue with the police and local authorities to improve their conditions of work. They are having de-facto support of the authorities to work in healthier situations, to work without police harassment. You are seeing successes, as I said, in Calcutta,” said Godwin.

Besides India, the report also singles out Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Thailand, Fiji, Laos and the Philippines for making progress on laws that improve efforts to treat and contain HIV.

While researchers say decriminalizing sex work in those countries would further improve the situation for prostitutes – the situation is different in Indonesia. There, although prostitution is not illegal, the U.N. says sex workers are routinely abused by law enforcement agencies and discriminated against by the public and the government.

via UN Report Calls for Decriminalization of Prostitution in Asia.

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AstraZeneca Approves Thailand’s Vaccine Factory

National News Bureau of Thailand

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BANGKOK (NNT) – AstraZeneca has approved safety standards at Thailand’s vaccine factory and will send the first batch of raw materials for vaccine production in June.

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Skin-lightening products market to reach US$31 billion by 2024

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Has Covid-19 prompted the Belt and Road Initiative to go green?

Oxford Business Group

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Has Covid-19 prompted the Belt and Road Initiative to go green?
– Covid-19 led to a slowdown in BRI projects
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– Government remains committed to the wide-ranging infrastructure programme
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Following a year of coronavirus-related disruptions, China appears to be placing a greater focus on sustainable, digital and health-related projects in its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As OBG outlined in April last year, the onset of Covid-19 prompted questions about the future direction of the BRI.

Launched in 2013, the BRI is an ambitious international initiative that aims to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes through large-scale infrastructure development.

By the start of 2020 some 2951 BRI-linked projects – valued at a total of $3.9trn – were planned or under way across the world.

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In June China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that 30-40% of BRI projects had been affected by the virus, while a further 20% had been “seriously affected”. Restrictions on the flow of Chinese workers and construction supplies were cited as factors behind project suspensions or slowdowns in Pakistan, Cambodia and Indonesia, among other countries.

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