International AIDS Conference 2012

“I feel something from the core of my heart at this festival...from this conference, the hope is that people will be able to know about us. Barriers will break”
Madhu in NSWP’s Solidarity is not a crime report

In 2012, the International AIDS Conference was held in the United States of America for the first time since 1990. Washington was chosen as hosting city after the United States of America lifted its travel ban for people living with HIV/AIDS. However, the travel restrictions for sex workers and people who use drugs remained. Excluded from the Washington conference, NSWP organised the Sex Worker Freedom Festival: the alternative IAC2012 event for sex workers and allies in Kolkata, India.

The Sex Worker Freedom Festival

The Sex Worker Freedom Festival provided a platform for sex workers and drug users to protest their exclusion and ensure their voices were heard in Washington. The SWFF programme was built around freedoms that we are all entitled to:

  • Freedom of movement and to migrate.
  • Freedom to access quality health services.
  • Freedom to work and choose occupation.
  • Freedom to associate and unionise.
  • Freedom to be protected by the law.
  • Freedom from abuse and violence.
  • Freedom from stigma and discrimination.

The Sex Worker Freedom Festival was an official International AIDS Conference 2012 Hub, providing satellite linkage between Kolkata and Washington conference sessions and the Global Village. It was attended by 667 participants, including 130 international sex workers from 43 countries and more than 400 Indian sex workers, as well as representatives from networks of people living with HIV, people using drugs, men who have sex with men and transgender people; UNAIDS and cosponsors; national governments; international non-governmental organisations; academics; and service providers.

The full report can be read here.

Related news, events and resources

NSWP publishes the Sex Worker Freedom Festival report

Freedom to Work video series launched

SWFF features on Democracy Now

Sex Worker Freedom Festival programme

IAS president remarks on sex work shocking

Press release Sex Worker Freedom Festival

Information for attendees of the Sex Worker Freedom Festival

International AIDS Conference 2012 - important info and deadline