UN wants prostitution decriminalized to help curb spread of HIV #sexwork

October 23rd, 2012 | News | 

By Gian C. Geronimo/GMANEWS – If the United Nations will have its way, soliciting sex or paying for it in the Asia and the Pacific region will no longer risk imprisonment.

In a recent report, the UN recommended the decriminalization of the world’s oldest profession to help curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV.

“Removing legal penalties for sex work assists HIV prevention and treatment programmes to reach sex workers and their clients,” the UN said in its report titled “Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific.”

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, known to condemn prostitution, cannot be reached for comment on the subject, as the organization’s secretariat said the bishops authorized to talk about the issue are out of town on official business. But at least one bishop has blamed prostitution for the spread of HIV and has urged a crackdown on the illicit livelihood.

The UN report makes the opposite argument. By legalizing prostitution, the government can make sex work safer, extend health services to sex workers and thus slow the spread of the virus.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said in a briefing Friday that it will leave the issue of legalization of sex work to the country’s legislators.

“We have no comment. We would rather leave it to our legislators,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte at a press briefing.

But Valte stressed that Philippine laws make prostitution in any form illegal. “Primarily, that’s illegal. Under our present laws that’s illegal which is why the LGUs are also in charge of cracking down and making sure that hindi lang doon sa establishments but rather people who traffic [are also apprehended].”

Susceptibility to HIV

The UN said the criminalization of sex-related jobs increases workers’ susceptibility to HIV by “fuelling stigma and discrimination, limiting access to sexual health services, condoms and harm reduction services; and adversely affecting the self esteem of sex workers and their ability to make informed choices about their health.”

The recommendation is also a move to stop the exploitation of sex workers and to give them basic rights by suggesting that their jobs, too, should have typical workplace standards in line with the law and government.

Decriminalization enables sex workers to organize within their communities and register their organizations, obtain identification documents so that they can fully access services and entitlements, engage in advocacy and respond to the health and safety needs of their peers,” the UN said.

The UN noted that, with the exception of New Zealand and the state of New South Wales in Australia, all countries in Asia and the Pacific criminalize sex work or associated activities.

In the Philippines, for one, sex work and soliciting sex work are illegal, as well as the establishment of brothels.

According to the Revised Penal Code, vagrancy is an offense, with the code defining prostitutes as vagrants. Sex workers caught may be fined up to six months in prison under the code’s vagrancy provision.

Valte said the government is continuously fighting prostitution and trafficking in the Philippines. “It is a point of concern which is why the IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking) continues to work on improving ‘yung mga conviction when it comes to trafficking in persons. We continue to work with—or the member-agencies in ensuring na nababawasan at mawawala po ‘yung mga ganitong kaso.”


The UN study said in the Philippines, despite the government’s support for efforts to promote condom use among sex workers, many people in the sex industry still steer clear of condoms for fear that it may be used by the police as evidence against them once they are arrested.

The UN report referenced a 2003 study that found that many street-based sex workers refused free condoms offered by outreach workers because of the police issue.

“Police impeded their access to HIV prevention services by confiscating condoms, using possession of condoms as evidence of sex work, or arresting them for vagrancy,” the UN report said.

Ways to decriminalize sex work

The UN listed ways to decriminalize sex work.

“To enable the sex industry to be regulated as a legitimate form of work requires removal of the range of laws that criminalize activities associated with sex work, including removal of offences relating to soliciting, living on the earnings of sex work, procuring, pimping, the management and operation of brothels, and advertising,” it said.

Its report also debunked claims that countries in Asia and the Pacific where sex work is illegal have low HIV rates and prevented the epidemic to spread among sex workers and their clients.

In fact, the study said evidence suggests areas that decriminalized sex work have “very high” condom use rates and increased access to sexual health services. —

with Patricia Denise Chiu/KBK/RSJ/HS, GMA News

Nuclear Tuna and NPR’s Trivialization

Fukushima *

Fukushima * (Photo credit: Sterneck)

May 31, 2012 · By Robert Alvarez

NPR shouldn’t trivialize the risk of radioactive tuna from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Yesterday, National Public Radio (NPR) ran a story asserting that cesium-137 from the Fukushima nuclear accident found in Bluefish tuna on the west coast of the U.S. is harmless.

It is not advisable to eat Bluefin Tuna. Photo by tokyofoodcast.
It’s not harmless. The Fukushima nuclear accident released about as much cesium-137 as a thermonuclear weapon with the explosive force of 11 million tons of TNT. In the spring of 1954, after the United States exploded nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands, the Japanese government had to confiscate about 4 million pounds of contaminated fish.

Radiation from Fukushima spread far and wide. Like American hydrogen bomb testing, the Fukushima nuclear accident deposited cesium-137 over 600,000 square-miles of the Pacific, as well as the Northern Hemisphere and Europe. With a half-life of 30 years, cesium-137 is taken up in the meat of the tuna as if it were potassium, indicating that the metabolism holds on to it.

According to a previously secret 1955 memo from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission regarding concerns of the British government over contaminated tuna, “dissipation of radioactive fall-out in ocean waters is not a gradual spreading out of the activity from the region with the highest concentration to uncontaminated regions, but that in all probability the process results in scattered pockets and streams of higher radioactive materials in the Pacific. We can speculate that tuna which now show radioactivity from ingested materials have been living, in or have passed through, such pockets; or have been feeding on plant and animal life which has been exposed in those areas.”

In 2001, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry noted that “…concentrations of cesium within muscle tissue are somewhat higher than the whole-body average. Cesium has been shown to cross the placental barrier of animals…”

There are several reasons why it’s not advisable to eat Bluefin tuna:

Cesium-137 adds to the contaminant risk of harm to humans eating the Bluefin tuna, especially pregnant women and infants, who are the most vulnerable, and will for some time to come.
Bluefin tuna is an endangered species because of over-fishing and contamination.
Bluefin tuna accumulate other contaminants such as mercury from sources such as coal-fired power plants.
If NPR had been around in the 1950’s, would it also have trivialized the impacts of open-air hydrogen bomb testing?

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Loot of Indias coal deposits by domestic and foreign companies

Dear friendsBetween 1993 and June 2011, Govt. of India has allotted 195 coal blocks to 289 private companies in lieu of nominal royalty on 30 years lease. Through this allotment, countrys coal deposit of nearly 43346.357 million ton which today is valued at Rs 13003907.10 crores is being handed over for plunder to domestic and foreign companies which will make huge profit in 433463.57 crores per annum

Indias total coal deposits are estimated to be of 2,85,862.21 million tons, which at todays market price of coal are valued at Rs. 85,75,8663 crores. The government is doing this on the name of development. If coal mines are given in this way, than every year nearly Rs. 28,58,622 crores will be looted which is two times of governments national budget.

In Govt. allotted 289 coal blocks, 189 coal blocks has gone to private companies in 2004 to 2011, and some new coal blocks are still to be allotted. Till date, 1515 proposals from private companies working in the field of electricity, steel and cement are lying with the government on which final decision is yet to be taken.

Interim Report of CAG says that between 2004 to 2011, due to non-exploration of coal by the allottees, a loss of Rs. 10,67,000 crores to public exchequer is done. This fact proves above prospects of loot are correct. To give benefit to companies, not doing open bidding is a crime, but the question is not of doing open bidding, it is of more importance as who is the real owner of this coal? And whether the government has a right to give this largesse to companies for loot.

Companies are doing this loot in collusion with the government, which under their pressure has changed Coal Act, giving this loot a legal facade. Firstly, by doing amendments in Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, private captive mines are allotted coal blocks. After that the companies working in the field of electricity, steel and cement are also included in this list. A provision was further made to allot coal blocks for coal gasification and liquidation. Than removing the captive restriction, directly or through Public- Private Partnership (PPP), the coal mines were handed over to private companies. In this way a well planned scheme to make loot of coal deposits easy was prepared. This loot is being attempted by rejecting country’s people ownership over coal, by misguiding and forcibly displacing Adivasis and to ensure this loot, the government of India under pressure from private companies has changed the Coal Act. It is clear that these changes are made to bring benefits to them.

Therefore, the people themselves have to come forward now for saving this precious natural resource. On the one hand, inequality, malnutrition, poverty, unemployment are incrcasing continuously, and on the other countrys governments are handing over this huge wealth to the corporates for plunder. The governments are befooling the public by giving name of development to this plunder. The richness of some private companies is not the development. The true development lies in richness of all.

It is also not correct to give coal exploration free of cost to the public sector companies. In this way resources are again used for the benefit of rich. In a country where half of the population is homeless, where 40% people do not have electricity in their homes, where 70% people use only 1 unit of electricity daily, what kind of benefit they will get on this exploitation of coal and other resources in the name of development? This is bringing all kind of material consumption only to the rich. Private companies, beaurocracy and other elites and affluent sections of society, who consume natural resources in vast quantities, really get benefits. Those millions of people, who toil hard day and night for their livelihood, get nothing.

Azadi Bachao Andolan believes this handing over of resources to corporates after taking them away forcibly from farmers and adivasis is immoral and unconstitutional and oppose this. Andolan is already involved in mass movements for establishing people’s ownership over resources in the states of Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Andolan is now going to further spread this movement in the coal rich states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharastra. Through this movement, Andolan appeals to public that to stop this plunder, people should take resolve that community ownership over coal is ours, which we will claim through Gram Sabhas. For country’s need, we will mine coal ourselves, but we do not allow any company to mine this coal. Andolan is making appeal to people to take resolve by taking coal in their hand at public places. As thousand of people did in Karnapura area of Hazaribagh in Jharkhand on 10th April. Not only coal but other resources like forest, water, land and minerals are being allowed to plunder after taking them away from people. This plunder is many times bigger than what was done by Britishers in colonial India. Azadi Bachao Andolan appeals that now the time has come for local community to assert their ownership right over resources through their Gram Sabhas and be ready for further struggle. All natural resources belong to Gram Sabhas. In Indian democracy, constitution bestows a role of trusteeship on the government. Any trustee institution does not have the right to snatch away peoples rights and give them to companies for private gain. Companies could not have ownership over them.

Through this campaign to establish peoples ownership over resources, we appeal to the people in their larger interest to be ready for civil disobedience movement-

1.For establishing through Gram Sabhas peoples communities ownership over coal, countrys common men express their public resolve.

2.All mines given to private companies be taken back.

3.Name of Board Directors and name of Beneficiaries of Ownership of these companies, which are allotted coal blocks be made public.

4.Names of those companies and of their share holders which have come via Mauritus route be also made public.

Dr. Mithilesh Dangi, Vivekanand Mathane, Manoj Tyagi
Phone : 09235406243
e-mail : azadi.bachao.andolan@gmail.com
National Office : 21-B, Moti Lal Nehru Road,


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