Imagine a fire breaks out in your apartment. You need to put it out immediately, so what do you do? You throw a bucket of butane on it.
That’s what the anti-prostitution loyalty oath (APLO), which forms a part of the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003 (or, the Leadership Act) and the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is: butane on a roaring fire.
By having non-governmental organizations pledge they will not offer services to sex workers, the oath should become a sort of deterrent, right? Wrong. It hasn’t deterred anything other than the prevention of disease. As it is now, organizations assisting sex workers around the world with education, health and other services are being denied funding. Many have been forced to stop their distribution of condoms or shut down entirely.
Sex Work Awareness is currently collecting signatures on a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the Office of Global Affairs. They’re trying to collect 100 signatures by Tuesday, December 22.
Sign it because you believe it’s better to protect a vulnerable population than moralize about mixing sex and money. Sign it because you support sex worker rights. Sign it because you believe fighting AIDS requires us to access every population. Sign it because it’s been deemed unconstitutional in the past. Sign it because you can’t think of any other organizations that have to make such a staunch division between themselves and a “restricted” practice (such as religious organizations who get funding for projects and also, say, proselytize). Sign it because you believe in better, smarter policy. Whatever your reason, sign it.
Yes, your signature can be made private. We know that matters to a lot of you. We understand why, too. That’s the world we live in.
Want more info about how the APLO’s affecting non-governmental organizations the world over? Go ahead and head over to GenderHealth.org and watch the 13 minute film by Erin Siegal, co-produced by Sex Work Awareness board member Melissa Ditmore.