Strategic Vision : 2014 - 2016 : WNU was a project of the Womyn’s Agenda for Change (WAC) aimed to empower sex workers through organising and mobilising and advocate for the right to work and livelihood under their slogan “sex work is work”.
The neo-liberal privatisation of public services such as health, education and utilities has given the most negative impacts on the Cambodian people, especially the poor and women. According to the debt research of WAC in 2004 and the 2014 health-debt research of Social Action for Change found similar situation that most of rural farmers fall into debt. People borrowed money from both micro-finance institutions and local lenders to pay for agricultural inputs and healthcare. Finally, they forced themselves and their children to migrate, searching for jobs that can earn money to survive and repay debt. Migrant women in the country or overseas work in unsafe, unprotected and/or most exploitative sectors such as agri-business plantation, garment factory, entertainment establishment and sex work as the last choice they made.
Laws and policies deprived sex worker’s rights to work and to livelihood. WNU has been advocating for reviewing and changing the 2008 Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation (LSHTSE), prohibiting most of the activities associate with sex work, including soliciting in public and procurement for sexual service purposes. This law aims to fight human trafficking but intentionally to abolish the sex industry with the international influence. Evidently, the US government anti-trafficking agenda has strong influence through its oversea aid and through Tier System of Trafficking in Person Report. In addition, there is a huge concern on the strong push at the Parliament of Europe to adapt the Swedish Model on criminnalisation clients of sex workers reclaiming as a way to address vulnerability and exploitation of female sex workers. This legal environment continue to push sex workers into poorer conditions, and many of them are homeless, have no access to safe working space, adequate basic services and fair treatment.
The consequences of the law and policy have evidenced that condoms remain a huge challenge that police continue to use as evidence to crackdown sex work in massage parlours and imprison the owners. There has been a number of dialogues and a policy guideline issued by the Ministry of Interior not recommended to taking condoms as evidence to crackdown that lead to the arrest of sex workers but this implication remain unsolved. In 2011 and 2012, WNU documented human rights violation, living conditions and working conditions of 143 freelance sex workers in five districts (khans) in Phnom Penh. Among them, 127 reported that they were held in either police station and/or detention centre of Municipality of Social Affairs for more than 4 hours and they were not offered any food, water or medicines. The Community Legal Service of WNU which was established in 2011 documented 86 sex workers (82 of them are street based) who were assisted 12 times to be free from detention centre of the Department of Social Affairs indicated as a result of the raids conducted at the public parks.
Beside external factors, WNU is also having internal challenges which is now under the process of revising its strategic approach and restructuring the management, programs and putting in place human resources with equitable knowledge and experiences. The organisation has been through sex workers-led process. Later, we learned that WNU does need the combination of staff both sex workers and non-sex workers who can share their skills, knowledge and experience contributing to build sex worker’s movement. In December 2013, WNU have elected five Coordinating Committee (CC) members to replace the role of the secretariats because the secretariats have been recruited as full time program staff. The CC members have legitimacy in monitoring WNU’s works, while a new Manager will be responsible for management and program coordination, making sure that programs are beneficial to WNU’s members. In July 2014, WNU recruited an Interim Manager to work on organisational assessment, conduct the staff appraisal, M&E and produce recommendations for how to improve human resources, workable programs reflecting strategic goals, communication flow, and developing clear job descriptions for each program staff as well as the new Manager who will be recruited. WNU expects the result from the organisational assessment to be integrated and updated into the strategic plan in early 2015 with a new Manager in place. This person will move WNU forward with the strategic direction either as sex worker’s association and/or union or a movement based on the results of the organisation assessment.
  • Sex workers and their children have full human rights in a society free from violence and exploitation.
  • Sex workers and their children have greater access to social services, especially adequate healthcare and education.
Mission: To strengthen sex workers membership and network to advocate for the greater participation in the development of program, policy and laws related to sex work that will give them greater access to social services, and freedom from violence and discrimination.
  • Gain greater support from government and decision makers of sex worker’s right to work and access to adequate social services.
  • Improve WNU’s organising and membership participation in leadership and collective decision.
  • Strong unity and collective actions amongst grassroots people’s movements.
  • To build a stronger sex worker membership organisation, coordination and management.
  • To advocate for the review and amendment of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation that decriminalise sex work.
  • To campaign for the improvement of public health policies and provision.
  • To operate a better legal services for sex workers and entertainment workers and non-formal education for their children.
  • WNU will have a stronger management and membership who can contribute to implementing programs to achieve organisational strategic goals.
  • WNU and its members will have a greater participation opportunities in providing critical inputs on the process of the LSHTSE review that means to protect sex worker’s human rights.
  • WNU and its allies will draw public attention and government responses in improving public healthcare for the poor with exemption, respect, and quality services
  • Sex workers, entertainment workers and their children will gain more confidence, safer environment, protection and inclusiveness in the communities.
  1. Organise and strengthen sex worker membership
  2. Activity
    • Review and put in place the membership organising strategy in WNU’s 7 districts/khans (Meanchey, Toul Kok, Daun Penh, Por Senchey, Chamkar Morn, Russey Keo, Sen Sok) in Phnom Penh (and seven provinces (Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Kandal, Kampot, Preah Sihanuk, Kampong Spue, Kampong Chnnang)
    • Recruit staff members and key organisers who are sex workers and non sex workers and strengthen their capacity in organising strategies and planning.
    • Work with United Sisterhood Alliance (Us) members to support on organising activities in the human rights based and empowerment approach with critical thinking and problem analysis.
    • Manage in a systematic way the members, their workplaces and contacts that could be reached out and extended supports for their human rights protection.
    • Engage Forum of PLHIV and Most at Risk Populations (FoNPAMs) which include entertainment workers, people living with HIV/AIDS, drug users, LGBT to encourage sex workers and entertainment workers to participate in critical policy discussions on their human rights.
    • Exchange visit to learn from WIC’s organising and outreach activities as well as DICs operation in which sex workers and garment workers could understand and support each other, particularly women’s causes.
    • Recruit network team leaders in each Khan and province in the target areas
  3. Advocate for the review and amendment of Law on the Suppression of Human
    Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation (LSHTSE) that decriminalising sex work.
  4. Activity
    • Collaborate with international and regional network (NSWP and APNSW) to facilitate the discussion process in reviewing LSHTSE, legal analysis and reports jointly developed by WNU to have deeper understanding on the impact of this law.s
    • Develop the propose position document that outline the key recommendations for the amendments of the LSHTSE to send to the law makers.
    • Work with UN agencies (UNAIDS and ILO) to help create dialogue space for sex workers and law makers to discuss the proposal for reviewing and changing the LSHTSE.
    • Collaborate with Us and FoNPAMs to hold public forums on conditions of sex workers and the impacts of LSHTSE on sex workers.
    • Distribute and publish IEC materials, including articles that uphold the law makers and law enforcement officers their duties in respecting and protecting human rights to safe working conditions of sex workers.
    • Join network advocacy activities against gender-based violence and safety of women in the city to highlight the continuous experiences of violence sex workers face from client, police authority and gangs as a result of the implementation of LSHTSE which raid and arrest sex workers.
  5. Joint Campaign on policy critiques on privatised healthcare to hold government and donor’s accountability in responding to universal access to healthcare services at free or lowest cost for sex workers.
  6. Activity
    • Work with the Us to hold discussions by using health-debt report and Pay or Die documentaries in order to raise awareness among the public on impacts of privatisation of healthcare on the poor and most vulnerable group such as sex workers, PLHIV, garment workers and farmers.
    • Engage Us and Cambodian grassroots cross sector network to jointly organise concerts and public forums to advocate the government for respect and fair treatment of the poor in accessing public healthcare services.
    • Collaborate with partners (Us, FoNPAMs, UNAIDS and UNDP) to engage in the advocacy process of Laws on Intellectual Property Rights, Compulsory Licensing development in relationship to TRIPS to ensure the access to free and/or affordable generic medicines and meet the universal access to healthcare services for sex workers.
  7. Provide direct assistance on human rights and legal protection for sex workers
  8. Activity
    • Provide services, including legal trainings, consultation and representation at the court for WNU’s members and non-members who are sex workers and entertainment workers. Provide legal assistance to extreme poor families and students, but legal consultation will covers all ages of clients regards of their status
    • Referal clients to other NGOs if the reported cases are not relavant to WNU’s strategic intervention and protection
    • Assist members who are arrested and put in detention centre to be free and provide them with essential services.
    • Assist WNU’s members and their children with halthcare referral services for free or at lowest cost at public health and NGOs operations.
  9. Provide direct assistance on human rights and legal protection for sex workers
  10. Activity
    • Run basic Khmer, English, mathematics, and break-dance classes in two drop-in centres
    • Assist children on the enrollment and reintegration into the formal public school system.
    • Engage children in social event or exposure visits for general knowledge
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