15 Dec

Minorities in a Movement

Group photo OGERA

OGERA stands with refugee 2017Uniting LBT and Refugee Sex Workers

Red Umbrella Fund’s Programme Associate Louise visited OGERA (the Organization for Gender Empowerment and Rights Advocacy) in Uganda earlier this year to listen and learn from this unique group. Why are they organized specifically around lesbian, bisexual, transgender (LBT) and refugee sex workers? And how do they manage to overcome the many cultural and language barriers within this diverse membership?

Minorities in the Sex Worker Movement

OGERA is a Kampala-based group that unites and empowers lesbian, bisexual, transgender (LBT) and refugee sex workers. The group opposes gender based violence and advocates for decriminalization of sex work. OGERA takes a stand against the ways in which nationality, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and choice of profession negatively impact sex workers’ lives day to day. It is the only sex worker-led organization that reaches out specifically to refugee sex workers in the area. 

Shamilah Batte, a refugee sex worker herself, set up the organization in 2013. She realized that the wider sex worker movement, largely led by heterosexual women, lacked representation of other minority groups within the community. According to Shamilah:

“Sex work is perceived to be done by heterosexual women only. For female sex workers, sexual orientation is often not questioned due to the assumption that they identify as heterosexuals. And the needs of refugee sex workers are neglected altogether. I could not just stand and watch my fellow sex workers face all sorts of violations, mainly because they could not access health information and education, treatment and legal representation. All this inspired me to come out and be a voice for the voiceless.”

Criminalization, Stigma and Violence

In 2016, the Women’s Organisation Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA), a fellow member of the Uganda Network for Sex Workers Organization (UNESO), submitted a report to the United Nations to shed light on the human rights violations sex workers in Uganda face. Ugandan law criminalizes sex work. WONETHA’s report explains how this feeds into structural systems of police abuse, rape, harassment and public humiliation of sex workers.

Refugee women sex workers as well as lesbian, bisexual and trans people not only face similar forms of discrimination and stigma as other sex workers, but they face additional oppression based on their sexual identifies and their status as refugees. For example, the law in Uganda also criminalizes homosexuality. In 2014, the Ugandan parliament passed the Anti-Pornography Act to also operate against ‘prostitution’ which is perceived as immoral. As a result, it increases social stigmas, police violence and harassment. In combination with this bill, criminalization laws and high levels of homophobia contribute to further discrimination that denies sex workers’ access to health services such as HIV treatment.

Group photo OGERA

Stories of Stigma and Abuse

OGERA’s offices are located in a remote area of Kampala. The small but bright office, where the organisation welcomes members and guests, is protected by a high security gate. One of the rooms is used by members to do each other’s hair or make-up, as an additional income generating activity. The staff uses a car to do its outreach work in the refugee camps which are not so close by.

At the office Louise met with five transwomen who shared their personal stories of abuse and physical violence. Mainly from clients but also from the general community. The persecution they face from society due to their sexual and gender identities is a major burden and puts their livelihood and even lives at risk.

At a Refugee Brothel

Later that day, while the sun was blazing outside, Louise was shown around a refugee brothel in a small enclosed neighborhood in Rubaga. While children were running outside and there was ample noise of people passing by, it was relatively quiet inside. In a room that seemed like a shed made of wood, she met with about twenty refugee members of OGERA. They had fled from countries such as Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo or South Sudan.

They all shared stories of their daily realities, such as clients who refused to pay for their services. This is a common and risky situation due the high level of stigma against refugees and sex workers, that is further complicated by language barriers. It can be complicated to clarify services and boundaries with a client when you have no language in common.

They also shared their struggles of finding fulfilling employment other than sex work. There is no state income available for refugees in Uganda and sex work is one of the few ways to earn some money for refugees. Louise noticed how they all listened intently to each other’s experiences as well and continuously combined pain and serious conversation with jokes and laughter.


OGERA logoOGERA is a relatively well-known sex worker organization in the country, although it has only existed a few years. It has won the “sex work organization of the year” award and currently Shamilah coordinates the national network (UNESO). The group has established strong partnerships with various human rights based organisations and funders and contributed to international human-rights based publications about refugees and sex work (here and here).

One of OGERA’s core activities is to establish dialogues with health service providers and sensitize health workers to the issues faced by sex workers. The aim of this strategy is to overcome discrimination at health facilities. Sex workers also frequently face housing and employment discrimination. This occurs when landlords refuse to rent spaces to sex workers or when employers outside the sex worker community discriminate them based on their work, gender identity, sexual orientation and nationality and therefore hinder sex workers to find work in other fields. OGERA’s direct peer to peer support work and dialogues have improved LBT and refugee sex workers’ access to health and legal services.

World Refugee Day

OGERA World Refugee Day 2017

OGERA celebrating World Refugee Day in Uganda

Many sex worker groups organize around important international days for human rights advocacy, such as 3 March, 2 June or 17 December. When Louise visited Kampala, OGERA was in the midst of planning its activities for World Refugee Day on 20 June. This yearly event is an opportunity to commemorate the strength of the millions of refugees worldwide and to show support for families forced to flee their countries of origin. OGERA’s founder Shamilah has faced such hardship when she was only 6 years old. She grew up in Rwanda during the emerging war between the Hutu and the Tutsi in 1994. When the conflict escalated into a genocide, she and her mother were forced to flee their home to find safety in Uganda.

For the World Refugee Day, OGERA rented a football field near a sex worker hotspot in the center of town. The group chose this location because it was accessible enough to draw the community in while secure enough for the safety of the organisation’s team and members.

We later learned that the event had been a success. Sex workers from diverse countries showed up, both members and new contacts, and discussed issues affecting them and spoke about the importance of solidarity amongst the refugee sex worker community. Shamilah shared the following with the African LGBTI media platform Kuchu Times:

“This day means a lot to OGERA considering the fact that this one of our key target groups. It creates awareness about the issues that affect refugee sex workers in a foreign country like Uganda.”

Despite complications due to the language barriers, this event allowed diverse refugee sex workers to exchange experiences amongst each other in a relatively safe space. And despite the hardships they face, OGERA members find strength in shared moments of joy, singing and dancing. These experiences help to build feelings of empowerment and solidarity among the community.

Let’s work together as sex workers to create a bigger voice. However, we should respect, embrace and recognize diversity within the sex worker movement.”
Shamilah Batte

This blog post was written by Josja Dijkshoorn, who supported the Red Umbrella Fund’s grant-making process in the summer months in 2017 after her BA International Studies. She currently studies Gender Studies at Utrecht University.

10 Nov

Устранение барьеров на пути к участию

RUF ISC 2017_s

пятилетний опыт предоставления грантов Фондом «Красный зонт» на основе широкого участия

Юрре Анема

Мне выпала честь последние полгода писать свою диссертацию в офисе Фонда «Красный зонт» в Амстердаме. Я получил представление о глобальном движении активистов, которые выступают в защиту прав секс-работников, и смог пообщаться с некоторыми выдающимися личностями, которые играют большую роль в деятельности своего местного, регионального или глобального движения. Цель моей работы состояла в изучении подходов к привлечению секс-работников к работе Фонде «Красный зонт» и опыте их реализации. Учитывая, что Фонд «Красный зонт» только что отметил свою пятую годовщину, пришло время проанализировать и задокументировать опыт Фонда для повышения эффективности его работы в будущем.

Процессы на основе широкого участия

«Я всегда полагал, что Фонд «Красный зонт» — это именно то, что нужно миру, потому что мне действительно по душе идея инициировать перемены в местах сосредоточения власти».

Идее широкого участия посвящено немало научной литературы, где излагаются различные уровни и особенности процессов на этой основе. При изучении процессов работы Фонда «Красный зонт» не остается никаких сомнений в том, что Фонд является организацией, где идея широкого участия реализована в полной мере во всех возможных моделях. Участие — это базовый принцип работы Фонда, который лежит в основе всех важных процессов, начинаний и решений. Фонд «Красный зонт» предоставил более сотни грантов объединениям работников секс-индустрии и непосредственно привлек свыше сорока секс-работников из разных регионов к работе в своих структурах принятия решений.

Время для размышлений

Фонд «Красный зонт» был основан в 2012 г., и сейчас, спустя пять лет с момента предоставления первых грантов, настало время поделиться некоторыми проблемами и размышлениями, услышанными мною от людей, принимавших участие в различных процессах принятия решений в Фонде. Многие проблемы, с которыми сталкивается Фонд «Красный зонт» и его участники, не так просто преодолеть. Они являются неотъемлемой частью работы с глобальным и многообразным движением, а также в организации на основе широкого участия.


Опросив лиц, принимающих участие в работе Фонда «Красный зонт», я выделил пять основных барьеров на пути к широкому участию, которые приходится преодолевать Фонду «Красный зонт»: языковые барьеры, расстояние, знания и опыт, безопасность и нехватка ресурсов.

  • Преодоление языковых барьеров

Язык считается одним из наиболее сложных барьеров, названных респондентами в моем исследовании. Экспертная комиссия Фонда «Красный зонт» — Консультативный комитет по программам (ККП) — работает исключительно на английском языке. Международный руководящий комитет (МРК), который, по сути, является органом управления, в настоящее время работает на трех языках (английском, русском и испанском), что уже является настоящим достижением. Однако если кто-то не говорит на каком-либо из этих языков, то на данный момент он(-а) просто не сможет принять участия во внутренних процессах принятия решений Фонда «Красный зонт». Это исключает участие большинства глобальных движений секс-работников.

Что касается тех людей, которые принимают участие в работе Фонда, то носители английского языка находятся в явном преимущественном положении. Им не нужен переводчик для общения, благодаря чему они, как правило, могут проще отвечать и ясно формулировать свои заявления в сравнении с неносителями языка. Тем не менее, о неанглоязычных участниках МРК неплохо заботятся: для них переводятся документы, а на каждом заседании, будь то очном или заочном, присутствует переводчик. Более того, участники заседаний как МРК, так и ККП осведомлены о разных уровнях владения английским языком их членов и стараются ясно формулировать и медленно излагать свои мысли. Таким образом, люди, которые в действительности могут принимать участие в работе Фонда, имеют возможность полноценно участвовать в обсуждениях.

  • Преодоление географических расстояний

Поскольку Фонд «Красный зонт» работает по всему миру, но имеет лишь небольшой офис в Амстердаме, то большая часть взаимодействия осуществляется по Skype, телефону и электронной почте. Для проведения заочных заседаний требуются соответствующие технологии, и их непросто организовать ввиду разницы во времени между участниками, которая может достигать десяти часов и более. Также стало понятно, что не все активисты и группы, выступающие в защиту прав секс-работников, способны одинаково активно работать в интернет-конференциях или имеют возможность безопасно принимать участие в заочных заседаниях в качестве защитников прав секс-работников и человека. Обычно раз в год, при условии наличия необходимых ресурсов, проводится очное заседание. Такие встречи представляют собой отличную возможность создания атмосферы доверия и понимания, а также позволяют проводить более углубленные и целенаправленные обсуждения. Однако такие заседания — также относительно более дорогостоящие мероприятия и требуют значительно больших затрат времени от всех организаторов и участников. Кроме того, в попытках собрать всех участников на очные заседания, Фонд уже столкнулся с такой проблемой, как визовые ограничения.

  • Признание и расширение знаний и опыта

Хорошее образование и опыт предоставления грантов не являются необходимыми условиями для участия в процессах работы Фонда «Красный зонт». Напротив, мы высоко ценим и считаем важным опыт участия в активистских движениях, а также знание основ их организации, в том числе на местном уровне. Тем не менее, наличие у участников опыта управления, стратегического планирования или составления годового бюджета может весьма пригодиться.

«Международные неправительственные организации постоянно препятствуют участию секс-работников в различных процессах. С Фондом «Красный зонт» все иначе: они не спрашивают о научных степенях, не ищут бакалавров, они лишь просят людей привнести что-то, что действительно необходимо».

Тем не менее, мы осознаем, что отсутствие соответствующих знаний и опыта может оказаться преградой для (потенциальных) участников. Люди с ограниченными знаниями о региональных или глобальных сетевых организациях и процессах или вообще не имеющие таковых навряд ли смогут уверенно принимать участие в деятельности МРК или ККП. Это неудивительно, так как принятие стратегических решений на глобальном уровне — сложный процесс, что признают даже активисты с опытом работы в глобальном движении. Однако, принимая участие в деятельности комитетов Фонда «Красный зонт», многому можно научиться. Люди, с которыми я общался в рамках своего исследования, подтвердили, что за счет участия в процессах принятия решений Фонда они многое узнали и приобрели новые навыки.

  • Вопросы обеспечения безопасности

Угрозы безопасности, с которым сталкиваются многие секс-работники, также препятствуют их участию в процессах Фонда «Красный зонт». Предоставление сексуальных услуг приравнивается к преступлению и преследуется по закону во многих странах, а работа в секс-индустрии является предметом ярого порицания и дискриминации. Поэтому не все активисты, выступающие в защиту прав секс-работников, готовы или могут публично заявить о своей принадлежности к этой сфере или быть потенциально признанными как таковые. В будущем это может сослужить им дурную службу при поиске работы, если они захотят сменить область своей деятельности. В некоторых странах детей секс-работников не берут в школы. Секс-работники из числа мигрантов, и в особенности мигранты без документов, обычно предпочитают по возможности оставаться в тени. Несмотря на то, что Фонд «Красный зонт» с уважением относится к всевозможным обстоятельствам жизни секс-работников и понимает, что не каждый всегда готов открыто признаться о работе в секс-индустрии, такая ситуация может препятствовать участию некоторых активистов.

  • Нехватка ресурсов

Некоторые из перечисленных выше препятствий можно преодолеть при наличии ресурсов, которые могли бы быть предоставлены Фондом «Красный зонт». Существуют способы расширения возможностей для участников. Например, в работу МРК можно было бы ввести дополнительный язык общения, однако это приведет к росту затрат и еще большему усложнению внутренних процессов. По утверждению одного из респондентов, «каждый раз приходится искать точку равновесия, когда МРК принимает решение относительно того, сколько направить денежных ресурсов на повышение доступности, уровня привлечения заинтересованных сторон или инклюзивности процесса».

Обеспечение доступности (т. е., преодоление или устранение преград) становится осторожным компромиссом между привлечением многообразного состава участников, с одной стороны, и поддержанием эффективной деятельности организации, с другой. Это типичная дилемма, с которой сталкиваются при реализации инициатив на основе широкого участия, и Фонд «Красный зонт», где стоит цель выделять не менее 70% своего годового бюджета непосредственно на гранты, — не исключение. Это означает необходимость держать под контролем уровень накладных и других расходов Фонда.

«Мне кажется, Фонд “Красный зонт” делает все возможное, чтобы выполнять свою работу хорошо в пределах доступных ресурсов».


Описанные в этом блоге различные препятствия относятся лишь к ряду отдельных общих категорий и не охватывают все разнообразие вопросов и проблем, с которыми сталкиваются секс-работники, желающие принимать участие в процессах работы Фонда «Красный зонт». Одной из таких неупомянутых ранее преград является ограниченное число свободных мест для участников. Множество достойных и квалифицированных людей неоднократно подавали заявки на членство в комитетах Фонда «Красный зонт», но ни разу не были избраны, что также не вызывает оптимизма и может действовать удручающе.

Многообразие в глобальном движении ведет к созданию уникальной ситуации для каждого отдельного активиста. Однако, как отметил один из моих респондентов из МРК:

«[В Фонде «Красный зонт»] существует четкое понимание о различиях и многообразии секс-работников, а также о важности инклюзивности и стремления не упускать из виду тех секс-работников, которые обычно не включаются в процесс или остаются неуслышанными».

В целом люди, принимающие участие в деятельности организации, решительно поддерживают ее работу и процессы. Итак, перед нами следующие пять лет!

Юрре Анема учится в Амстердамском свободном университете на факультете социологии. В рамках своей диссертации на соискание степени магистра он проводил исследование в Фонде «Красный зонт», посвященное процессам на основе широкого участия. Если вы заинтересованы в этом исследовании и хотите получить более подробную информацию или экземпляр его дипломной работы, пожалуйста, напишите в Фонд «Красный зонт» на адрес: info [собака] Redumbrellafund [точка] org.

12 Jul

Not Bad Migrants


The passport you hold determines a lot of your privileges, access and protection. I have always been able to benefit from a blue American passport— never being questioned while traveling, never having much difficulty obtaining a work or study visa abroad. My passport, white skin, and blonde hair provide me the privilege to exist and move through the world relatively freely. But in Eastern Europe, for example, a sex worker’s passport may determine whether she is – even with a legal residence permit – “targeted for rescue, detention and re-socialisation or deportation programs” by the government or NGOs.


Last year I spent five months researching and writing a master’s thesis on human trafficking prevention campaigns and EU, Dutch, and UN human trafficking policies. I focused on migrant sex workers from Eastern Europe in the Netherlands. Much of the literature review included theories on state control of female sexuality, particularly the control of ‘foreign’ women by criminalising migration and victimizing migrant women sex workers.

This research, in addition to volunteering at the Red Umbrella Fund’s office in the Netherlands for the last eight months, has led me to think more about the status and labour conditions of Eastern European migrant workers, particularly sex workers, in the Netherlands. These experiences, including acquiring a Lithuanian passport for myself, have made me realize that our nationality, as well as our gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, and choice of work can greatly impact how we are perceived by the state. Whether we are feared or welcomed, and which rights we get access to.

Migrant Sex Workers in Europe

“There are stereotypes for instance— the hyper-sexualisation of women depending on [her country of origin]. This is also very harsh for us [sex workers], because when we travel from one country to another or go through airports, they assume we are sex workers just because we come from a specific country.”

–Pauline (Whores and Alliances) (link) referring to the abuse and discrimination black migrant sex workers face in Spain.


Red Edition, Austria

Migrant sex workers, depending on where they are from, what they look like, and which passport they hold, are treated differently by law enforcement, border control, and society. Migrant sex workers make up approximately 65% of the sex worker population in Western Europe and about 17% of the sex worker population in Central Europe (link). Migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers have been doing sex work as a means to sustain themselves and their families. The International Committee on the Rights of Sex workers in Europe (ICRSE) recently published a policy brief and recommendations on the rights of migrant sex workers. In this brief, ICRSE highlights that the criminalisation of migration and sex work is extremely problematic and dangerous for migrants and migrant sex workers.

“We want migrant sex workers to be seen and understood, to be acknowledged as migrant sex workers.” (link) -Kemal Ordek, Red Umbrella Turkey

Migrant labour

Structural, political, and economic changes in many regions of the world have led to an increase of migrants, particularly women migrants, seeking work in Europe. May this work be in factories or fields, in domestic or sex work, these are women who are working to support themselves and often times, their families. Migrant sex workers need to be included as part of the larger migration patterns and migrant labour movements, rather than how they are often perceived by the public, law enforcement, and media, as victims of human trafficking. The issue that remains is that sex work is not seen as work, but something that someone ‘must have been forced or tricked into’. So if this is the case, how can migrant sex workers, regardless of which passport they have, be seen as autonomous hard working individuals who moved in order to make a living?

TAMPEP, the European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers, advocates for the human and civil rights of migrant sex workers in Europe. When sex work is criminalised and migration is increasingly controlled, migrants and migrant sex workers are forced even further underground. They can no longer trust the police or government officials, in fear of being arrested, detained, or deported. This is when migrants turn to third parties (i.e., friends, neighbours, family members, acquaintances, travel agents) to assist them in their migration process. This dependency and lack of ability or perceived ability to access justice increases the risk of exploitation.

How to become a trafficker

Unlike the UN’s Palermo Protocol (The UN’s human trafficking article) which clearly states that a human trafficking offense requires a form of coercion or deceit, the Dutch article 273F 1.3 essentially criminalises assisting a migrant in their journey to the Netherlands even without any coercion or deceit. Under this article, taking someone across the border to the Netherlands is enough to be considered human trafficking.



Felicia Anna, a Romanian sex worker and blogger living and working in Amsterdam, discusses this issue in her blog Behind the Red Light District. Felicia Anna uses the following example to illustrate how damaging and infuriating this law is. Someone is driving through Germany heading to the Netherlands, and he or she sees a woman along the road who is looking for a ride to Amsterdam because she wants to work in the Red Light District. She’s alone, no one has deceived her of the work she will do there, or coerced her to go to Amsterdam. The driver agrees, since he or she is already heading to Amsterdam, and why not help a fellow passenger? Once they have crossed the Dutch border together, the driver of the car is a criminal according to Dutch law and the woman is a victim of human trafficking.

It is important to note that this law article only applies to individuals working in the sex industry, even though trafficking and labour exploitation clearly take place in other sectors too. This is one way the Dutch government has problematized migrant sex workers coming to the Netherlands to do sex work. But if the majority of sex workers in Western Europe are migrants, and many of them come from Eastern European countries, why criminalise someone assisting someone else who wants to do sex work in the Netherlands if it is legal for them to do so?


Based on their own research among migrant sex workers in Europe and Central Asia, ICRSE identifies the following key demands to policy makers:

  • Support the decriminalisation of sex work in order to ensure (undocumented) migrant sex workers’ access to health and justice.
  • Support migrants’ regularisation and an end of deportation of (undocumented) migrant sex workers.
  • Ensure that asylum seekers, refugees and (undocumented) migrants have access to welfare support to economic and employment opportunities.

Sex worker organizing



Last October I was able to observe the Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting of the Red Umbrella Fund as a note taker. Each year, the PAC reviews the grant applications from sex worker groups all over the world and select new grants to be made. In last year’s selection process, the PAC members noted that there seemed to be quite a few new migrant sex worker groups applying for a grant. Migrant sex workers face discrimination on multiple fronts. They face challenges as sex workers and as migrants, and have unique needs to be met. But they are often not included in migrant organisations and not sufficiently included in most sex worker organisations either. This rise in migrant sex worker groups makes me hopeful in that migrant sex workers are increasingly organizing and making their demands heard. To policy makers, as well as the larger sex workers’ rights movements.


This blog was written by Nika Norvila, who supported the work of the Red Umbrella Fund as a volunteer for eight months in 2016 and 2017.

07 Jul

Hints for 2017 Applicants

RUF map umbrellas_2017

Dear sex worker friends,

[update: Please note that the 2017 call for applications is now closed. We are not accepting new applications anymore this year.]

The Red Umbrella Fund’s annual call for proposals is open.

If your group or network is sex worker led, recognises sex work as work, and is interested in building and strengthening the sex worker movement – you can apply for funding this year! If you are in doubt about any of these requirements, let us know.

All the information you need is available in our website, including the application forms and guidelines. There are two application forms available – one for groups, and one for networks.

The deadline for submitting applications is 28 July. You still have time to complete an application. And if you have submitted already and want to send an improved version of it, that’s fine too.

We suggest that you carefully read the guidelines we’ve put together. Below we will give you a brief overview and some hints about the process and how you can improve your chances of being selected.

Here is our brief advice:

  • If you have questions about your application, contact the secretariat for more information before 21 July. Don’t submit your application if you are not sure yet. We are glad to give you personalised feedback and advice.
  • Remember that sex workers from different parts of the world will be reviewing your application, so write this applications to your peers. Sex workers know the importance of your work, just remember to describe it really well.
  • Write the application in one of the four languages that we work with – English, Spanish, Russian or French. Applications in Portuguese will also be considered. If you can’t write in these languages, seek help from your community, allies or simply Google translate.
  • Remember that most sex workers reviewing your application are not from your country or region, so you might have to explain things that seem obvious to you!
  • When you select referees, choose people that actually know your group and that will give you a positive feedback. References help Programme Advisory Committee members to evaluate your work and make the best selection, so pick the right ones. Remember to inform your referees about your application and the need of responding to our request.
  • Carefully complete the application form and avoid contradictions. Make sure that the information provided is consistent and relevant for external readers. If it’s only relevant to you and sex workers from your group, explain why.
  • Remember to fill in all fields of the application form and include all the requested details. Groups often fail to explain the nuances of their organisational structures, for instance. Remember that sex workers in the peer review panel don’t expect you to run an NGO with many structures; what they want to know is how you organize your organisation and work and if your group has democratic processes in place.
  • Share your most relevant successes, those that really stand out. The competition is very high and you need to make a case for why those successes are relevant in your context, and how they relate to your vision and future plans.
  • Be clear about describing yourself as a local, national or regional organisation. That helps sex workers reading your application to understand the impact of the work you do. If you claim to be a national or regional organisation, clarify the national and regional scope of your work, membership, etc.
  • Be frank about your challenges and limitations. Sex workers from the Programme Advisory Committee may consider it important to fill in funding gaps and support your group based on your unique needs and challenges.

If you are tired of reading, meet Dennis & just listen:


09 Jun

Call for Applications is now open!

[update: Please note that the 2017 call for applications is now closed.
We are not accepting new applications anymore this year.]

Is your group, organisation or network led by sex workers?

Do you agree that sex work should be recognised as work?

Do you contribute to building and strengthening the sex workers’ rights movement(s)?

The Red Umbrella Fund gives grants to sex worker-led groups and networks that are registered or unregistered. In 2017, we expect to make about 25 core funding grants to local, national and international sex worker-led organisations and networks.

Apply for a grant here!

LIZimage by Liz Hilton

¡La nueva convocatoria global del Fondo Paraguas Rojo 2017 está abierta!

Haz clic aquí para Español.

Фонд «Красный Зонт» открыл прием заявок о соискании грантов на 2017 год!

Нажмите здесь для Pусский!

Notre 2017 Appel à Propositions est maintenant ouvert!

Cliquez ici pour l’application Français!

02 Jun

The Creation of the Red Umbrella Fund

RedUmbrellaFund History cover

Five years after itsstoryofredumbrellafund creation, the Red Umbrella Fund is proud to publish a part of its history. This report brings out the energy, commitment, and courage of the people involved in setting up this pioneering funding mechanism for sex workers. We have been eager to document this story to share our learning from this process with other activists and donors.

“We never thought this could be possible” – Ana Luz Mamani Silva, Mujeres del Sur

Starting with a meeting on sex work and trafficking in 2008, the story highlights  perspectives and experiences from sex workers and funders involved in the process up to 2012 when the Fund was officially launched.

Discover how the sex workers activists and funders overcame their differences, and worked to build common understanding and consensus. Find out what key ingredients to success have been identified.

“If you’re genuinely interested in supporting our rights, you should set up a fund where we set the priorities ourselves” – Ruth Morgan Thomas, NSWP

RedUmbrellaFund History cover


Download the report here


31 May

Programme Advisory Committee | Recruitment 2017

PAC 2016

What’s the PAC?

Each year, the Red IMG_4655Umbrella Fund publishes a Call for Applications. The Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) reviews the applications and advises the ISC about which new grants to make. PAC members read and score applications and select which applications should be funded by the Red Umbrella Fund. The PAC has 7 – 11 members, the majority (at least 80%) are sex workers. PAC members can stay on the PAC for up to 3 years. The Red Umbrella Fund is committed to have a PAC that is diverse in terms of gender and geography.

Who can apply?

The Red Umbrella Fund is looking for two sex workers or strong allies from:

  • US & Canada
  • Eastern Europe & Central Asia (except Turkey)


PAC membership is voluntary, unpaid and requires a high level of commitment. PAC members must be able to read 3 – 4 proposals each week during the review period. Positions for allies who are not sex workers are very limited on the PAC and relevant sex worker candidates will be prioritized over allies.

Minimum requirements:

  • Language: able to easily read and discuss funding proposals in English.
  • Availability: able to commit about 5 hours each week to review and score applications between 15 August and 30 September 2017 and to participate in the PAC meeting in Amsterdam (2 – 5 October). Travel and meeting costs will be covered.
  • Affiliation: be part of and/or endorsed by at least one sex worker-led group or network.
  • Internet: PAC participation requires regular email and some Skype contact.

What can you gain?

  • Participating in the PAC is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the Red Umbrella Fund’s grantmaking to sex worker groups around the world.
  • Red Umbrella Fund staff provide individual orientations to all new PAC members.
  • Learn about sex worker activism in different regions and work directly with other sex workers during a three-day meeting in Amsterdam. Many PAC members also find the experience useful for their own fundraising and activism. Feedback from PAC members’ experiences:

 “It’s been very exciting and rewarding to be part of this amazing project.”

“The PAC has given me an insight into other regions and contexts, and understanding of the global sex workers movement.”

“This process and PAC meeting really inspired me and gave me ideas for my organization.”

Read blogs authored by current PAC members HERE and HERE.

How can you apply?

  • Check if you meet all the requirements mentioned above.
  • Get an endorsement from your organisation.
  • Complete the self-nomination form HERE.
  • E-mail the form together with the endorsement letter to dennis@redumbrellafund.org by:
    9 July 2017.

Applicants will be informed of the final decision by 24 July 2017.

For more information go to: www.redumbrellafund.org
For questions, contact: dennis@redumbrellafund.org

15 May

Funders Need to Let Go

Dennis blog photo 2

“During the conference, it occurred to me that we do not need everyone to become a participatory grantmaker. It makes sense that some organisations may not fully be able commit to this ethos. Rather, what we need is to scale up participatory grantmaking.”

Dennis van Wanrooij, a Programme Associate at the Red Umbrella Fund attended the 2017 EDGE Funders Alliance annual conference in Barcelona. Dennis was enthusiastic to share information about participatory grantmaking and it turned out that many of the conference’s participants were eager to learn more about it!

Dennis blog photo 2

Dennis speaking the closing panel with Chris Stone (OSF) and Sarah Gunther (Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice)


Dennis emphasized the need for funders to let go, and to acknowledge the privilege funders have as funders.

“Let’s stop talking about the risks funders make when they cede power. What I want to talk about is the risks sex workers and other populations take when advocating for their rights in highly criminalized and hostile environments. The risks we take, as funders,  pale in comparison.”

dennis blog photo 1

PAC members and volunteer in 2013.


As a former member of the Red Umbrella Fund’s peer review panel and current staff member, Dennis has learned that participation is more than just making decisions about grants—it’s about re-thinking your role as a funder on a daily basis, and seeking community participation in all layers of work. In order to achieve a fully participatory process, funder need to partner with, support and learn with their grantees.

Read Dennis’ full blog post published in Alliance magazine here.

06 Mar

China: A Case Study of Sex Worker Organising

China sex worker organising case study

Sex work is illegal in China and it is difficult to effectively organise online due to censorship and repercussions. The large geographic distances in China make it difficult to come together in person. This is the Red Umbrella Fund’s third case study, highlighting the work of a sex worker-led organisation in China to improve access to health care and legal services for highly mobile cis men and trans women sex workers.

“People can come in and share. They have a sense of belonging. A sense of identity. We talk about their work and encourage them to share. So we have an environment of people talking with us.”

For the safety of all those involved in the work of this organisation and to avoid jeopardizing the organisation’s important work, the name and details have been anonymized in this case study.

“Academic partners are useful for their expertise in the theories and concepts surrounding sex work and gender. The group has always promoted sex work as work, but has more recently used academic theories gained from partnerships with researchers to improve their approach to advocacy.” 

Despite all the challenges and risks of organising in China, the group has managed to create a drop in centre specifically for cis men and trans women sex workers. This has created a sense of community and a safe space where sex workers can feel comfortable being themselves and where they are able to share experiences and exchange advice. News of the group has been spread by word of mouth through the networks of sex workers.

Read the full case study here.China sex worker organising case study

Read the second case study about APROSMIG in Brazil here.

Read the first case study about Sisonke in South Africa here.


23 Feb

APROSMIG: A Case Study


[**Texto abaixo em português]

 “From community outreach to political action, the group has made great strides in empowering sex workers and decreasing violence against them.”

Sex workers in Brazil face high levels of stigma, systematic violence and abuse from the police. However, the group has developed a successful relationship with the military police of Minas Gerais which has resulted in a significant decrease in violence against sex workers in the area. This case study (the second in a series of three) is about APROSMIG (Associação das Prostitutas de Minas Gerais), a sex worker-led group in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

“APROSMIG provides legal counselling, promoting access to social benefits, and training participants to deal with situations such as arrest and violence from the police and clients. They have worked with the urbanisation company URBEL to include older sex workers in the social housing system. In workshops on entrepreneurship sex workers learn how to open  a business bank account and use debit and credit machines, which are much safer and help to avoid situations of violence with clients.”

APROSMIG has empowered sex workers through educational and cultural initiatives. The group provided English language classes for sex workers and developed a reference book (“Puta Livro”) for international clients during big international events in the country. APROSMIG organised marches and Daspu (from the whores) and Puta Dei events, demonstrating their pride and successful community building.

The Red Umbrella Fund was the group’s first international and institutional funder.

Read the full case study here [in English].

Read the full case study here [in Portuguese].

Read previous case study about Sisonke here [in English only].


APROSMIG: Um estudo de caso

“Da ação comunitária à ação política, o grupo fez grandes avanços na capacitação das profissionais do sexo e diminuição da violência contra elas”.

As profissionais do sexo, no Brasil, enfrentam altos níveis de estigma, violência sistemática e abuso da polícia. Contudo, o grupo desenvolveu um relação bem sucedida com a polícia militar de Minas Gerais, o que resultou em uma diminuição significativa na violência contra as profissionais do sexo na área. Este estudo de caso (o segundo de uma série de três) é sobre APROSMIG (Associação das Prostitutas de Minas Gerais), um grupo de profissionais do sexo de Belo Horizonte, Brasil.

 “A APROSMIG oferece consultoria jurídica, promovendo o acesso a benefícios sociais e capacitando as participantes a lidarem com situações tais como prisão ou violência cometida por policiais ou clientes. O grupo trabalhou com a empresa de urbanização URBEL para incluir profissionais do sexo mais velhas no seu sistema de habitação social. Workshops sobre empreendedorismo ensinam as profissionais do sexo a abrirem uma conta bancária comercial e como usar máquinas de cartão de crédito e débito, que são muito mais seguras do que dinheiro vivo e ajudam a evitar situações de violência com clientes.”

APROSMIG capacitou profissionais do sexo através de iniciativas educacionais e culturais. O grupo ofereceu aulas de inglês para profissionais do sexo e desenvolveu um livro de referência (“Puta Livro”) para clientes internacionais durante grandes eventos internacionais no país. APROSMIG organizou marchas e os eventos Daspu e Puta Dei, demonstrando orgulho e empoderamento da comunidade.

O Red Umbrella Fund foi o primeiro financiador internacional e institucional do grupo.

Leia o estudo de caso completo here[em português].

Leia o estudo de caso completo aqui [em inglês].

Leia o estudo de caso anterior sobre Sisonke aqui [em inglês apenas].


04 Oct

As Rosas Já Falam: My Love Letter to AWID

AWID Daspu lineupFrom September 8th to 11th, many feminist sex workers’ rights advocates and allies made their way to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil and gathered at the AWID Forum. AWID’s forum is a massive global gathering that brought together over 1800 feminists from all over the world this year. While the history of sex work activism in feminist spaces is long, the meaningful and respectful participation of sex workers in these spaces is sparkling new.

“We are whores. We are feminists. And we have rights.” – Cida Vieira, APROSMIG (Brazil)

Ana Luz Mamani, a sex worker activist from Mujeres del Sur in Peru and member of the International Steering Committee of the Red Umbrella Fund, spoke to a large crowd about funding sex worker organising in the plenary “Money and Movements”. And that was just the start of the evening…

It was followed by a DASPU fashion show organised by sex worker activists to raise visibility for the sex workers’ movement and sex work “as work”. DASPU is a Brazilian sex worker-brand that is renowned for its fashion shows filled with humour, pride and advocacy messages. While the audience danced and cheered on their chairs, sex workers and allies from more than twenty nationalities performed on stage.

Let me tell you, it was a blast!

IMG_3058The catwalk celebrated the existence of the Red Umbrella Fund, which was launched at the AWID Forum in Turkey in 2012, and the “growing and showing” sex workers’ rights movements. Since its launch, the Red Umbrella Fund has made 78 grants, totalling over 1.8 million USD of direct financial support to sex worker organising in 45 countries.

Open Arms

The show also symbolised a big “thank you” to AWID for welcoming sex workers into these feminist spaces with open arms. For creating room for a feminist dialogue with sex workers beyond the often overwhelming trafficking and exploitation debates.


Photo: Sangeeta Ramu Manoji, VAMP (India)

Personally, I was honoured to celebrate sex workers’ lives, experiences, affections, challenges but also opportunities with friends and fellow activists from around the world! I was thrilled with the large amount of positivity I heard about the vibrant moves of the sex worker show at AWID’s arena. Among the comments was a celebration of our ability to bring together the diversity of the sex worker movement – which includes sex workers of all genders, sexual orientations, race, and class – on stage, and to mobilise hundreds of enthusiastic feminists. Sex worker activism does not always get such a response in feminist spaces.

So sex workers fight trafficking?

“Anti-trafficking policy in Canada is anti-sex work policy. Actually, we don’t need the police to rescue us. Sex workers need to know their rights. (…) Migrant sex workers are treated as terrorists in Canada. This year alone, 16 women in our network have been arrested. They have trauma. Not because of trafficking or exploitation, but because of the arrest and police treatment.” – Elene Lam, Butterfly (Canada)

The Red Umbrella Fund co-hosted a session that elaborated on the need to acknowledge sex workers as key allies in the fight against sex trafficking and labour exploitation. Elene Lam (Butterfly Asia and Migrant Sex Workers Project, Canada), Cida Vieira (APROSMIG, Brazil) and Kiran Deshmukh (VAMP, India) shared diverse examples of how they stand up for their rights as sex workers and for the rights of people who have experienced sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“Raids [of brothels] in India are very violent. They are often sponsored by anti-trafficking NGOs. They have a lot of money. We struggle to find money to collectivise but they have big budgets. (…) Every woman who opts to be in sex work should have that right and should be able to work in safe work conditions.” – Kiran Deshmukh, VAMP (India)


Photo: Elene Lam, Cida Vieira, Bandana Pattanaik, Kiran Deshmukh, Aarthi Pai

They expressed the need to talk about labour and migration rights for women and to gain respect for sex workers’ voices and experiences, as well as to value their vast knowledge in the field. Bandana Pattanaik from the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) concluded that the presentations “demonstrated that sex worker organisations are claiming their space, involving communities, and engaging at policy level to combat trafficking”.

Funding Movements

In the session, ‘How Can Funders Most Effectively Support Young Feminist, Trans* and Sex Worker Movements’, the Coordinator of the Red Umbrella Fund, Nadia van der Linde, advocated for more and, importantly, better funding for sex workers’ rights. She then opened the discussion with the sex workers and other activists in the audience about how funders can improve their funding in support of, and together with, their respective social movements.

Some of the needs expressed to funders were:

  • listen to the community;
  • provide long-term and flexible support;
  • support strategies and capacity to overcome closing civil society spaces and bureaucracy;
  • translation support; and
  • introductions to other funders.

No Turning Back!

Photo: Gabriela Leite by Luiz Garrido

Every forum day, sex workers were visible in one or more sessions in the programme, whether from the perspective of fun and pleasure, transgender rights, or artivism. I heard numerous people at AWID say that they believed this was “the tipping point” for the global feminist movement’s embracing of sex workers’ rights. I witnessed a growing understanding that sex work is a human rights issue in which feminists play an important role in pushing a rights-based agenda forward. As stated in the title of Open Society Foundations’ report that was also launched at AWID, there is No Turning Back.  The way forward is jointly with and in support of sex workers.

So this was my love letter to AWID and to all those who made sex worker participation possible and outstanding. To quote Gabriela Leite, a sex worker activist from Brazil and creator of DASPU: “as rosas já falam” (sex workers already have a voice). Just listen. 

By Dennis van Wanrooij, Red Umbrella Fund

01 Jul

Фонд «Красный Зонт» открыл прием заявок о соискании грантов!

Red Umbrella Fund Call2016 poster

группы и сети работающие под руководством секс-работников, из любой точки мира могут прислать заявку до 1-го августа 2016 года.

Являетесь ли вы группой, организацией или сетью управляемой секс-работниками?

Признает ли ваша группа, организация или сеть, что секс-работа является работой?

Заинтересована ли ваша группа, организация или сеть в том, чтобы способствовать развитию и укреплению движения секс-работников?

Нажмите здесь для Pусский

Red Umbrella Fund Call2016 poster

Notre 2016 Appel à Propositions est ouvert jusqu’au 1er Août

Cliquez ici pour deposer une demande de subvention.

Télécharger l’affiche

The Red Umbrella Fund’s global Call for Applications is open until 1 August 2016.

Apply for a grant here.

¡La nueva convocatoria global del Fondo Paraguas Rojo (2016) está abierta!

Haz clic aquí para Español




21 Apr

Why Sex Work should be Decriminalised

Sex work (or prostitution as many know it) is a subject surrounded by fierce discussion, often about human trafficking. In much of the discourse, the line that separates the concept of sex work from human trafficking seems to have all but disappeared.

Discrimination, indignity, violence and diseases – all issues sex workers in many countries face regularly. But not because it necessarily is ‘part of their job’, but because society condemns and criminalises them.

A 17-year old girl from Thika (Kenya)has been arrested by the local police for soliciting sex. She gets assigned a police cell . The chief commands one of the officers to deliver him the girl the following morning. She is raped repeatedly. When the chief is done with her she can go back to her cell. Two other officers  follow this pattern for  days. Then finally, the girl is released.

I can imagine you thinking of sex work as  something a bit strange. When you hear that 85% of women working in the Red Light District does so against her will, it makes sense to wonder why we still accept this in the Netherlands. I can imagine you might turn against  sex work if you hear only about exploitation and abuse. And I can even understand that, in terms of your religion, or values around sexuality, you find it strange that some people use sex to earn money. It is easy to follow the mainstream media who present you this information on a silver platter. Before I learned differently, I believed the same.

June 2015. It’s the first time I’m on the phone with Nadia, Coordinator of the Red Umbrella Fund. Nadia tells me that the Red Umbrella Fund supports sex workers in order to improve their work and living conditions. I think about a documentary I once saw: ‘Jojanneke in de Prostitutie’. It was supposed to be about sex work, but all that I saw were conditions that made me think of human trafficking. I wonder why someone would support something degrading like sex work? This required some research. Disbelief turned out to be naivety and ignorance changed to  knowledge.

In no time,  I am transformed in a firm advocate of decriminalisation. Why? Because the ‘degrading ’ part is in the way sex workers are treated, not in  the work itself.

The story of the girl from Thika is just one small example of what I read in Open Society’s report on violence and abuse against sex workers in Kenya (2008). In Kisumu, another city in Kenya,  sex workers are often directly claimed by senior police officers. One women was kept imprisoned and abused in the house of one of the agents. After four days, when a new victim was arrested who could take over her place, she was released. The way female police officers treat sex workers isn’t much better. Arrested sex workers are not aloud to walk, but have to crawl. They are forced to perform stripteases in order to be humiliated. Often they have to sleep on the ground and don’t get proper food. At night they get ordered to mop the floor with urine and water mixed together, for no other reason than it being possible.

'Only rights can stop the wrongs.' Credits: Dale Kongmont, APNSW

‘Only rights can stop the wrongs.’ Credits: Dale Kongmont, APNSW

This doesn’t only happen in Kenya. Rape and violence by police and customers is common in many countries. Sex workers are regularly banished from their community and denied access to healthcare. In Cambodia, for example, sex workers can’t reach out for HIV medication. Are we ever going to solve the worldwide HIV problem if the most vulnerable group to this disease can’t receive any help? I don’t think so. One sex worker declared that she has accepted a two dollar offer for sexual intercourse because if she didn’t, her child wouldn’t eat that night. Without labor rights and basic human services, she has no choice but to agree to such low prices.

The stories hit home, injustice is something that always touches me very deeply. The problem is actually pretty simple: with such a lack of respect respect, sex workers aren’t seen as worthy human beings. If society doesn’t accept you, you don’t have much money and your job is illegal, you end up in very vulnerable positions. Violence and exploitation then become inevitable.

Why do we have such a problem with sex work?

Sex work is ‘the voluntarily sexual exchange  between two people upon payment.’ In my opinion nothing is wrong with this. If free sex is accepted, why isn’t payed sex? Or are we struggling with the addition of the word ‘voluntary’ which is a word that doesn’t seem to exist when people think of sex work?  We all know human trafficking is horrible. However, by criminalising sex work we create an ‘underground world’ where it is extremely difficult to separate wrong from right. It won’t only do harm to those that voluntarily work in the business, but also, and maybe even more, to the ones that don’t. This already existing underground will grow, and real human trafficking victims will disappear in the mass. This is an underground world wherein rights don’t exist. A world that’s hard to reach for rescue teams. A world wherein sex workers become even more vulnerable to addiction, violence and disease.

A great example of this underground world involves the issue of HIV. In countries like Tanzania and China, but also in the United States, sex workers are being arrested by the police, simply for carrying condoms.

If the choice is getting arrested or taking a risk and working without condoms in order to feed your child, what would you do?

The consequence is, as you can imagine, that many sex workers start working without condoms.

An honor to sex workers all over the world, statue Belle in Amsterdam. Source: Mariska Majoor

An honor to sex workers all over the world, statue Belle in Amsterdam.
Source: Mariska Majoor

Some say sex work should be replaced by ‘normal work’. Actresses like Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep agree. They oppose Amnesty International’s new decriminalization policy. Ignoring the fact that some sex workers actually do enjoy their work, it is also very easy to make statements like these when you live in Hollywood, where money flows. Think of the woman who accepted two dollars for her services in order to feed her child. How will she find a ‘normal job’ in a country where there is a shortage in jobs? Factors such as poverty, lack of education, health and social status have a lot of influence on freedom of choice. That is why we have to realise that alternatives to sex work, if desired, are only possible when the economy allows it.
Forcing a sex worker to do 12-hour shifts in a textile factory for a pittance, which happens a lot, is definitely not the right solution. That looks more like human trafficking than sex work. NGOs who support these so-called ‘rescue operations’ should be ashamed. The woman who wants to feed her child needs nothing more than human rights and protection of her safety.

Amnesty International posted a video in which a women speaks about sex work, the money she earned doing it, and how it made it possible for her to save her children from a violent father. It reminded me of an interview with Marjan Wijers, researcher on human trafficking and sex work, which she did for magazine De Groene Amsterdammer:

‘Feminists should be the ones fighting for the rights of sex workers. The stigma on prostitution touches every women. It keeps the idea alive that the right of protection against violence depends on their honor or sexual purity.’

What is more powerful than a women saving her children from an abusive father? That doesn’t deserve discrimination or a jail sentence, only respect.

Eva Jansen, for the Red Umbrella Fund
This post was translated from Dutch. You can find the original post here.

08 Apr

Are we really listening?

The discussion on funding anti-trafficking initiatives organized by Global Fund for Women (GFW) and South Asia Women’s Fund (SAWF) at the recent San Francisco IHRFG meeting highlighted a few significant gaps that we as grant makers must pay attention to. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) presented from its latest research on what money is invested in anti-trafficking initiatives and how that money is spent. To me, the most striking conclusion was the paradox of large sums of money going into anti-trafficking initiatives globally but the relative absence, even the unwillingness, of most human rights funders to engage with the issue. It makes me question who we are listening to when setting our funding priorities?

This paradox was echoed by Tulika Srivastava, Executive Director of SAWF, who added that although trafficking is often seen as primarily a problem affecting women and girls, many women’s rights organisations and feminist activists do not engage much with anti-trafficking initiatives due to the conflation of trafficking and sex work and the related sensitivities and polarized debate.

“It all comes down to who controls poor people, particularly poor women, their mobility, and their decisions,” clarified Tulika, “Who decides what’s good for them or not?”

In other words: do we even listen to the people that our funding is meant to support?

Although the adoption of the UN Protocol in 2000 and more recently the ILO protocol on Forced Labour have resulted in some efforts to affirm rights of workers, in many parts of the world anti-trafficking responses limit themselves to carrying out raids in brothels that claim to ‘rescue’ trafficked women. The harmful effects of such initiatives, including harassment, abuse, and arbitrary detention of women who depend on sex work for their income, are well researched and documented as “collateral damage” by the GAATW. There are numerous reports (see for example here and here) documenting abuses in rehabilitation centers and shelter homes that are more like prisons than safe houses. Sex workers in Thailand define raid and rescue initiatives as “action taken by police with TV cameras [and] reporters, where many women are shown sitting on the floor and hiding their faces from camera, or with their eyes inked out like criminals – when the job [is] done, most of us end up in debt and return to [sex] work to pay it off after we are released”(source: Bad Girls Dictionary by Empower, 2007). There is ample evidence of the totally apnsw logo sewing machineirrelevant and unrealistic alternative job options and trainings that are offered to women in shelters. It has even led to the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) developing a logo with a crossed out sewing machine and a film by sex workers in India called “Save us from Saviours”. In the US, the anti-trafficking frame is used to arrest large numbers of sex workers, particularly from black and trans* communities.

All this suggests an important role for human rights funders to ensure the human rights of all workers, regardless of the site and nature of their work and their legal status, are protected.

Interestingly, while many human rights funders stay silent and the feminist movement continues to be divided on the topic, global support for decriminalisation of sex work – including as an essential ingredient to ending violence, exploitation and trafficking in the sex industry – is experiencing an upward trend in recent years with clear endorsement from UNAIDS and WHO and more recently also from Amnesty International. Why then is there so little response from human rights funders to address this global issue of human trafficking? The discussion among funders in the session revealed that the topic is generally considered “too contentious and heated”, “too complex” and “too sensitive” to touch. A story was shared of a programme manager proposing to expand their grantmaking to include this area of work, but facing a blockage by the board of trustees who preferred “not to take a stance” on the issue of sex work.Save us from saviours

Tulika shared her own fund’s recent trajectory of not wanting to get involved in this complex debate, but ending up right in the middle of it. “We heard stories at meetings about women being rescued, supposedly after being identified as trafficked, from sex work as well as domestic work. Our research then showed us that the ‘rescue’ actually provided much risk of abuse, poor labour conditions and less income. It didn’t seem such a good deal for those women.” A key learning of SAWF has been, that decriminalization of sex work and self-organising among sex workers are essential ingredients to an effective and comprehensive approach to end trafficking.

“I used to think that all sex workers were victims too,” confided the director of another women’s fund to me after the session.

As the coordinator of the Red Umbrella Fund, the global fund that is led by sex workers, for sex workers, my position on sex work is obvious. The victimization approach is common but not effective and, in fact, harmful because it robs sex workers of their agency and voice. Our experience of four years of grantmaking at the Red Umbrella Fund tells us that sex worker rights activists’ priorities around the globe are to end the violence and stigma they experience daily. Decriminalisation of sex work is an important strategy to enable sex workers to protect themselves from violence and exploitation and seek justice when needed. As the old saying goes: Only rights can stop the wrongs.

A Bangladeshi woman I spoke with a few years ago put everything in perspective for me. She made her living as a sex worker in one of the country’s largest brothels. She had moved to the city to work, to take care of her children and mother. She had no savings, lacked school diploma’s and had no formal work experience.

“I could have become a waste picker or beggar”, she told me, “but sex work brings more money and gives me more freedom to work the hours that suit me. I take care of my kids, I can send them to school, and I work at night.”

Although she had no prior knowledge of concepts like human rights, lacked access to proper health services due to high levels of stigma and discrimination, and was unable to seek justice against the violence she experienced because the police was the main perpetrator, she was one of the most confident women I have ever met. Although the country’s law makers and popular media try hard to make you believe otherwise, she was not a victim.

While feminists may argue endlessly over the legitimacy of sex work as work, the people who sell sexual services as work make their own decisions based on what they consider their best options to be. Just like you and me. In this world we live it, when it comes to finding a job, poverty limits options. Being a woman or trans* person limits options. Having no formal education or a higher degree limits options. Being from an ethnic minority limits options. The list goes on. But as human rights funders, we have money to facilitate change.

Sex workers and their community organisations are often the first point of support to people who experience trafficking and other forms of abuse or exploitation. But according to our research there are few funders out there to support their work.

To go back to my earlier story, how did the director who just told me she used to think all sex workers were victims change her mind? “Meeting a sex worker, and hearing her side of the story,” she admitted. How about all of us, are we really listening to the people whose rights our funds aims to protect?

By Nadia van der Linde, Coordinator at the Red Umbrella Fund

This blog was initially posted on the Alliance Magazine blog here.


17 Feb

Deciding for all or all deciding? Exploring Participatory Grantmaking

 ‘Innovation and iteration’ was the key theme of the January the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) conference in San Francisco. In the opening plenary, speakers noted that the ‘innovation’ of community involvement and participation in grant decisions would be one of the topics included in sessions throughout the meeting. It was quickly added, though, that these practices are in fact really not new.

‘Why then’, the panellist remarked, ‘is participatory grantmaking still considered innovative? Isn’t it just common sense?’

Diana Samarasan, Founding Executive Director of the Disability Rights Fund; Nadia van der Linde, Coordinator of the Red Umbrella Fund; Nevin Öztop, Resource Mobilization Officer of FRIDA; and Katy Love, Senior Program Officer at Wikimedia.

Photo (left to right): Diana Samarasan, Founding Executive Director of the Disability Rights Fund; Nadia van der Linde, Coordinator of the Red Umbrella Fund; Nevin Öztop, Resource Mobilization Officer of FRIDA; and Katy Love, Senior Program Officer at Wikimedia.
Since the 2014 publication of Who Decides, the seminal research on participatory grantmaking carried out by Matty Hart of The Lafayette Practice, the philanthropic sector is abuzz with conversation about the value and benefits of participatory funding and, increasingly, participatory funding models. The Who Decides report discusses the benefits of participatory grantmaking, highlighting the contribution of participatory grantmakers in strengthening communities and movements, not just through their grants but also through their grantmaking processes and additional support in areas of capacity building and solidarity.

While participatory funding models have been in existence for several decades, particularly in the US, we have been seeing an increase in international participatory grantmaking initiatives. More and more funders are questioning how to increase their transparency and accountability to the people affected by their grants and recognizing the added value of leveraging the knowledge and insights of the community. This is an exciting trend that will likely continue to grow.

When we organized our first joint session on participatory grantmaking at IHRFG in 2014 in New York, the room was packed, but the questions posed to us focused on understanding the benefits and challenges on the WHY: the general concept of participatory grantmaking. In other words, why go through all that trouble? It was, as we experienced it, not widely understood as ‘common sense’ at all, although some colleagues in the field did express admiration for our courage and innovativeness.

Recognizing the relevance of learning from each other as participatory grantmakers, explicitly opening up to other participatory funders and interested peers, and eagerly aiming to be more strategic in sharing our learning, we established the international donor working group on participatory grantmaking which is hosted jointly by IHRFG and ARIADNE. Through this platform, we share relevant resources and food for thought. Each of our funds routinely fields questions about how we actually do participatory grants, and we are eager to learn and share what we have learned.

At the recent IHRFG conference in San Francisco, four diverse funders (FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund, Disability Rights Fund, Red Umbrella Fund, and the Wikimedia Foundation) convened a session on the practicalities of participatory grantmaking. In other words, the ‘how-to’ of participatory grantmaking. The room was packed with funders, all of whom were either somewhat or completely convinced of the benefits of participatory grantmaking, but only few who had actual participatory grantmaking experience. Most funders acknowledged the potential benefits of participatory grantmaking in areas of movement building and leadership development, and in the shared power and transparency of such approaches, but had very specific questions about the HOW.

The concept of participatory grantmaking puts decision making in the hands of activists on the ground, who, we believe, hold a type of expertise that funders will probably never have. But the model can also be threatening and challenging. There are many technical and operational issues to unravel, such as cost and conflict of interest. And also, internal politics, as was shared by some brave private foundations with a healthy sense of self-criticism and a twist of humour. How can we develop a model that allows us to (cost-)effectively share power, while effectively staying in power? Because honestly, how can a Board of Trustees of a foundation aimed at ending social inequalities ever be convinced of the benefits of a more effective grantmaking strategy that requires sharing power? Organizational change takes time and for foundations that are not explicitly set up within or in support of a social movement, the thought of community leadership within their own decision making structures may be daunting, but step-by-step processes and hybrid models can be considered.

There is still much room for innovation and iteration in the field of participatory grantmaking. While we have taken action to assess, document, and share our good practices and lessons learned (see for example from ‘Funding Knowledge the Wiki Way‘ about the Wikimedia Foundation and about the FRIDA Fund, ‘Letting the Movement Decide’), it is clear that the need is high as funders are eager to get the tools to feel more comfortable moving from rhetoric to practice to actually iterate participatory grantmaking.

Members of the IHRFG/ARIADNE participatory funder working group are planning next steps, including creating a FAQ on participatory grantmaking, developing a guide for grantmakers, and expanding the venues where discussions on this funding model occur. Stay tuned and join us!

01 Feb

Ohotu means Love

How the sex workers’ movement in Nigeria is “growing and showing” despite violence

The Nigerian Criminal Code penalises sex work with imprisonment, while at the same time the government claims to focus on promoting education and alternative employment for sex workers. However, 65 percent of Nigerians live below the international poverty line, revealing a significant lack of employment opportunities. In the meantime, the criminalisation of sex work has resulted in a lack of protection and rights for sex workers in Nigeria who experience regular violence and abuse from police in addition to the widespread fear and violence spread by Boko Haram.

“There are challenges, but I thank God it puts food on my table”
– sex worker in Nigeria (source here)

Courage and positivity

The South African Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and African Sex Worker Alliance (ASWA) organised an international meeting in 2010 to build sex workers’ knowledge on human rights. The Nigerian participants ceased the opportunity to create their own organisation for and by sex workers. The group is now called Ohotu Diamond Women Initiative (formerly known as WOPI). Eva Jansen talked with the group’s coordinator, Imaobong Abraham Udoh, a.k.a Pat Abraham, about the challenges the group faces and how they overcome them.


Coordinator Imaobong Abraham Udoh (Pat Abraham)

“Ohotu means love in one of Nigeria’s local languages,” explains Patt Abraham, “It symbolises the group’s mentality of mutual support and positivity.”

Their positive mind-set and courageous approaches are some of the greatest strengths of the women oganised in Ohotu. The organisation informs sex workers about their sexual and reproductive health and human rights. It organises rallies and media campaigns in support of decriminalisation of sex work and supports women sex workers in Lagos city to claim their rights. Their events help to foster solidarity and empower the sex worker communities.

“It is not easy; the road to decriminalisation is very long,” explains Patt Abraham.

From police abuse to police approval

The visibility of the group is significant, particularly considering the criminalised status and stigma surrounding sex work. While facing the risk of being arrested, members of the group march the streets with banners to raise awareness about sex workers’ human rights. Patt explains that the only way to be visible as activists and sex workers is to keep educating the police and invest time into building partnerships.


Nigeria on the map (source: Wikipedia)

“Before we take any action, we get in touch with one of the commissaries to discuss our plans. We try to explain to them that sex workers also have morals, and that they have children that need to be raised. We want the next generation to be better off than ours. Officers need to realise that the HIV problem is something that hits the entire country. The HIV prevalence will only go down if sex workers have the possibility to work on this problem.”

The group has been successful at building this relationship as the police commissioner usually allows their planned activities and protects them during protests or gatherings. Still, police abuse remains one of the biggest challenges for sex workers in Nigeria, according to Patt.

”The police goes after the girls… Police officers often go to brothels to collect money. If sex workers refuse, they are arrested or abused, depending on the officers’ mood. The system is corrupt, which makes the situation worse than it already is.”

Ohotu advises sex workers to take photographs whenever something bad happens in brothels or at ‘hotspots’ (common locations where women sex workers solicit or meet clients). They use the photos as proof in their claims with other, less corrupt, police officers when they try to pressure them to take appropriate action.

”Yesterday I visited one of the brothels in Lagos. There had been a fight between a costumer and one of the girls at work, which escalated very badly. The costumer cut the girl in her ear and she ended up in the hospital. The police was there but did not do anything.”

Security delays

Other problems faced by Ohotu are the violent conflicts and the political tensions in the country. The postponed elections this year and the fundamentalist sect Boko Haram, which abducted almost 200 young women and girls in April last year and continues to create havoc, caused a lot of tension across the country. Many people, including a lot of sex workers, fled to family in safer areas and small villages. Particularly many migrant sex workers in Lagos are from the area where the kidnappings took place and had personal contact with affected families. Patt recalls:

“Around the time of the events, we had to cancel trainings for security and safety concerns and due to absence of members. Boko Haram was moving from the north-east to the south-west of Lagos. This frightened people because it meant they could be everywhere.”

Pattoo Abraham

Pat leading a protest for sex worker’s rights in Lagos

People stayed away from the streets as much as possible, including sex workers and customers. The sex worker rights day activities had to be postponed. As soon as the situation was slightly more peaceful, Ohotu rescheduled its activities. In June, for example, Ohotu organised an event for sex workers, brothel managers and human rights activists. There was information about sex work and family planning, and sex workers learned new skills such as making clothes and baking cakes.

“The new learned skills can be used to make some extra money,” explains Patt. “For many sex workers it is not easy to combine sex work and raising children. By having other sources of income, for example selling self made jewellery, sex workers do not have to rely on sex work completely. They can work from home a bit more, and find a better balance between work and family.”

It is not an attempt to ‘rescue’ sex workers from their job, but rather provide opportunities to improve their livelihood situation

Expanding its work

Ohotu is ambitious and full of plans. While decriminalisation is the goal, it also works to increase sex workers’ access to health services and HIV prevention. In addition, Ohotu wants to expand its work with children of sex workers:

”They are very vulnerable,’ says Patt. ”They need education and more respect, it is good to bring them together. They are often being bullied by other kids, because of their mothers’ stigmatised job. If we want to help sex workers, we need to help their children too, they are the future.”

Undeterred by the challenging circumstances in the country, the sex workers’ rights movement in Nigeria is growing and increasingly visible because, as Patt says, ”We are tired of dying in silence”.

By Eva Jansen for the Red Umbrella Fund

21 Dec

SCOT-PEP Reaches Next Milestone


SCOT-PEP достигает следующей вехи

на пути к ликвидации насилия в отношении сексработников

Впервые за 16 лет истории Парламента Шотландии обсуждался законопроект, который был разработан совместно с организациями, возглавляемыми секс-работниками. 10 ноября 2015 года восемь членов комиссии, три члена шотландского парламента и более пятидесяти других заинтересованных активистов, избиратели и члены общин собрались в Парламенте на открытом заседании по Предполагаемому законопроекту по реформе Закона о проституции (Шотландия).

parliament hearing_scotland2015На фото – член Парламента Жан Ургухарт (Jean Urguhart) между другими участниками дискуссии от организаций секс-работников и университетов.

В последние годы на политической сцене доминируют попытки ввести в Шотландии шведскую модель, которая предусматривает уголовную ответственность клиентов секс-работников, но не сам акт сексуальной работы. В настоящее время официальная государственная политика по отношению к секс-работе под названием “Безопасные жизни, измененные жизни” рассматривает всю секс работу как насилие в отношении женщин и унизительное положение для всех женщин.

Легальная, но с ограничениями

Фактический обмен интима за деньги является законным в Шотландии, но уголовные законы, направленные против вымогательства, владения публичным домом и передвижения в машине в поисках уличных секс-работников делают почти невозможным продажу секса, не нарушая закон. Пути этих законов принудительно ставят под угрозу и делают бесправными работников секс-бизнеса. Кейт Харди (Kate Hardy), одна из участниц дискуссии на открытом заседании и лекторка в Университете Лидса, вспоминала, что, когда она впервые приехала в Шотландию, она обнаружила, что секс-работники были более скрытыми и изолированными, чем в любом другом месте, где она ранее проводила исследования.

Конечная цель предлагаемого законопроекта – декриминализация секс-работы посредством отмены законов, запрещающих вымогательство, передвижение в машине в поисках уличных секс-работников и владение публичных домов, а также регулирование секс-работы таким же образом, как и другие формы труда. Недавнее открытое заседание в Парламенте стало важным шагом в этом процессе, и к прекращению стигмы, окружающей секс-работу.

История SCOT-PEP

Благотворительная организация SCOT- PEP работает примерно с 1989 года, изначально в качестве поставщика услуг, финансируемого при государственной поддержке местного совета по вопросам здравоохранения. Однако их недавняя кампания за декриминализацию получила импульс только после того, как организация потеряла государственное финансирование и разработала новую организационную идентичность в качестве правозащитной группы. После успешного предотвращения самой последней попытки внедрить шведскую модель в 2013 году организация была мотивирована притоком новых активистов и установила секс-работников во главе Группы по Кампаниям для управления своим процессом принятия решений. Как эксперты в своих собственных нуждах, секс-работники сами по себе являются наиболее важными голосами в определении политики, которая устранит последствия правил и норм, годами наносивших вред секс-работникам, и созданных людьми, которые не давали прозвучать голосам работников секс-бизнеса, говоря от их имени.

Вступая на путь декриминализации

Активисты SCOT-PEP собрались вместе, чтобы сформулировать следующую цель организации: декриминализация. Даже для членов правления в свое время декриминализация казалось невозможной целью. Тем не менее активисты представили свой план в Фонд «Красный зонт» для проведения публичной кампании по декриминализации и переосмыслению стигмы, работы с населением, исследований на базе данных сообщества и создания альянсов, все из которых в конечном счете завершится в законопроекте.

SCOT-PEP затем собрали сколько было возможно секс-работников для “Дня декриминализации”, чтобы обсудить, каким должен быть законопроект о декриминализации секс-работы. С этого дня вся деятельность организации будет способствовать достижению этой главной цели. Некоторыми элементами к успеху явились фокус на создании серии фактологически обоснованных справочных документов, выявление сильного союзника в рамках шотландского Парламента (как Жан Ургухарт (Jean Urguhart), которая обеспечивает доступ к парламентской системе, а также активизирует поддержку коллег и союзников (включая Коллектив проституток Новой Зеландии). Члены совета SCOT-PEP описывают парламентскую встречу в качестве маркера, представляющего расширение прав и возможностей секс-работников в стенах парламента, который показывает сдвиг в общественном восприятии и изменении стигмы. Исторически, такая стигма помешала бы SCOT-PEP прежде всего сделать первый шаг.

Эффекты Закона на жизни сексработников

Декриминализация представляет собой подход по снижению вреда для секс-работы. В то время как активисты признают, что законопроект сам по себе не положит конец насилию и стигме в отношении секс-работников, они также признают, что нынешний режим криминализации и регулирования является причиняющим ущерб здоровью и безопасности секс-работников. Законы, запрещающие вымогательство и передвижение в машине в поисках уличных секс-работников заставляют секс-работников тратить меньше времени на переговоры со своими клиентами и работать в изолированных местах, удаленных от полиции. Законы по владению публичными домами запрещают секс-работникам работать даже с одним другим человеком в целях безопасности, а другие законы криминализируют родственников, живущих за счет доходов секс-работы. После прохождения закона о передвижении в машине в поисках уличных секс-работников в 2007 году SCOT-PEP выявил 95% рост насилия в отношении работников секс-бизнеса. Кроме того, секс-работники стали меньше сообщать о преступлениях в полицию, опасаясь преследования или отношения, когда их не принимают всерьез. Жестокие преступники знают о стигме и о том, что секс-работники являются уязвимыми целями.

Интересно отметить, что участники дискуссии до открытого заседания в шотландском Парламенте редко упоминали секс-работу. Они выявили более насущные проблемы в жизни секс-работников такие, как их неспособность найти работу, чтобы оплачивать счета и кормить своих детей, последовательное уменьшение выгод из-за жестких мер экономии.

Ники Адамс (Niki Adams) из Коллектив проституток Англии обратила внимание на политики, связанные со студентами, пытающимися платить за обучение, одиноких матерей и мигрантов, которые сталкиваются с расизмом и дискриминацией в других формах занятости как ключ к решению политики секс-работы.

Время для политики на основе фактов

Исследования на основе фактических данных указывают на единое положение того, что декриминализация является логическим шагом на пути к прекращению насилия в отношении секс-работников. Юридические структуры, криминализирующие секс-работу оказывают незначительное влияние на количество людей, работающих в этой сфере и скорее вытесняют секс-работников и делают их невидимыми. Это затрудняет им доступ к здравоохранению и другим услугам. Надин Стотт (Nadine Stott), участница и сопредседатель SCOT-PEP, утверждала, что законодательство, которое позволит самим секс-работникам определить, что является и что не является насилием в их отношении, и расширить права и возможностей работников секс-бизнеса, чтобы держать менеджеров подотчетными законам, разработанными самими секс-работниками. До тех пор пока не будут приняты прагматичные, прогрессивные предложения, разработанные совместно с секс-работниками в центре процесса принятия решений, законодатели рискуют принять политику, которая дополнительно будет маргинализировать наиболее уязвимые группы секс-работников и увеличит насилие в их отношении.


Усилия SCOT-PEP по созданию коалиций, участвовать в юридических процессах и информирования о ситуации в Шотландии является важным шагом в деле ликвидации повседневного насилия, с которым сталкиваются секс-работники.

Об авторе

Сет Лоуэр (Set Lauer)- студентисследователь, который является международным волонтером Фонда «Красным зонт» с осеннего семестра 2015 года через Школу международного обучения. Он исследовал и документировал техники, стратегии и опыты добровольцев SCOT-PEP по определению того, какие адвокационные практики являются самыми эффективными для создания социальных и правовых изменений. Он изучал работу SCOT-PEP через архивные исследования, присутствовал на открытом заседании до Парламента, а также встретился с членами правления SCOT-PEP в ноябре. Его дипломная работа будет выставлена здесь после завершения обучения.

Надя ван дер Линде (Nadia van der Linde)

15 Dec

In Loving Memory of Elena Tsukerman

Elena close up

В память о Елене Цукерман (1972 – 2015)

Фонд Красного Зонта выражает искренние соболезнования семье, друзьям, коллегам и правозащитникам в связи с потерей Елены Цукерман или Лены, как мы ее знали. Мы глубоко потрясены ее скоропостижной смертью и с горечью скорбим о потере этой сильной и преданной активистки, которая не приемлила слышать «нет» в ответ.Elena with red umbrella

Лена присоединилась к Международному координационному комитету (МКК), ключевому принимающему решения органу глобального Фонда Красного Зонта, в 2012 году. На протяжении последних трех с половиной лет, она проявила невероятную приверженность поддержке секс-работников посредством организации и представления интересов секс-работников. Она использовала каждую появившуюся возможность для того, чтобы повысить наглядность потребностей секс-работников в ее стране, а также, в еще более широком контексте, ее региона в целом. Более того, она всегда стремилась узнать о деятельности и наладить связи с активистами и единомышленниками по всему миру.


ISC meeting 2015

“Я скорблю в связи со смертью моей хорошей подруги и члена Международного координационного комитета глобального Фонда Красного Зонта. Мы будем скучать по всем вопросам, которые ты любила задавать. Это большая потеря для организации Легалайф, а также для всех секс-работников во всем мире. Твоя память останется в наших сердцах.”

– Джон Матенге, член МКК Фонда Красного Зонта, HOYMAS

“Елена была положительным человеком и преданным членом МКК. Она была настоящим бойцом за права секс-работников. Одну вещь она часто говорила мне: “Я научусь говорить по английски. Есть столько всего, что мне хочется сказать, но я не могу найти сейчас слов.”

– Мириам Эдвардс, член МКК Фонда Красного Зонта, Коалиция секс-работников Гайяны и Карибской коалиции секс-работников

“Елена была очень энергичной женщиной. Она никогда не позволяла пройти чему-либо легко, если не была уверена во влиянии этого на секс работников. Мы в МКК были счастливы, когда Елена присоединилась, чтобы представлять Восточную Европу. Она всегда была очень вовлечена и всегда брала реальную ответственность за повышение информированности и внимания к её региону. Елена, ты работала так много… теперь время отдохнуть… спи долго… покойся с миром… мы очень скучаем по тебе…!”

– Ной Аписук, член МКК Фонда Красного Зонта, фонд EMPOWER

“Жизнь так коротка, особенно когда человек на самом пике своей жизни говорит нам прощай. В это почти невозможно поверить, я все ещё не могу принять этого, но это была наша компаньонка – Елена. Твой уход из этого мира оставил глубокие следы, потому что ты была сильным бойцом. Со всего мира мы подберем те семена, что ты оставила. Мы любим тебя и будем всегда помнить тебя, Елена Цукерман.”

– Ана Луз Мамани, член МКК Фонда Красного Зонта, Mujeres del Sur

«Потеря единомышленника – это шок и глубокое горе. Ее усилия по привлечению внимания к тому, что происходит с женщинами и в особенности с секс-работниками в течение военных действий и конфликта – вот об этом я думал совсем недавно. Ее принципиальная правозащитная деятельность была пылкой и коллегиальной, что вносило важный вклад в МКК с целью фокусирования на важной миссии и реальных жизнях, с которыми связаны наши решения. Я ошеломлен.»

– Джавид Сиед, член МКК Фонда Красного Зонта, Американская еврейская всемирная служба (AJWS)

“Лена отдавала всю себя активизму. Она никогда не боялась говорить правду в лицо власти или бросать вызов статусу кво, и у неё было сильное чувство справедливости. Но она также была невероятно тёплой, доброй, и смешной, и она использовала своё чувство юмора и эмпатию для того, чтобы строить мосты через пропасти культур и языков. Она была глубоко преданна продвижению прав человека секс-работников в Украине и в её регионе, используя свою платформу чтобы делать их голоса слышимыми везде, где только возможно. Она часто являлась миротворцем МКК, его прагматиком и моральным компасом. Лена, мы очень скучаем по тебе.”

– Хэзер Бенджамин, член МКК Фонда Красного Зонта, Фонды Открытого Общества

«Лена была преданным членом МКК, она брала на себя ответственность и не уклонялась от непростых обсуждений. Буквально в этом году, она взяла руководство над разработкой Кодекса этики Фонда Красного Зонта с целью усиления нашей инфраструктуры и обеспечения продолжения нашей прозрачности и ясности. Ее стиль общения мог быть прямым и иногда достаточно волевым, однако она всегда излучала тепло, она наполняла пространство смехом и любовью во время наших общих встреч и разговоров лицом к лицу. Нам будет не хватать Олены, правозащитника секс-работников, лидера МКК и лидера в более широком контексте движения секс-работников.»

– Надя ван дер Линде, Координатор Фонда Красного Зонта

“Видя как быстро и бесцеремонно жизнь подходит к концу, я хочу поблагодарить Олену за все, чему она меня научила о движении секс-работников и о мире. Мне посчастливилось работать с ней много раз, также и в Украине. Я осознал, что язык не является барьером, если цель одна. Я ее чувствовал и был очень удивлен глубине нашего живого общения и общения через переводчик Google. Несмотря на различие наших взглядом по некоторым вопросам, я всегда знал, что Олена ведет борьбу за то, что правильно. Она была честной и восхитительной активисткой. Нам будет не хватать ее сильного голоса и ее борьба останется в наших сердцах навсегда.»

– Деннис ван Ванроой, сотрудник программы, Фонд Красного Зонта

Elena with Red Umbrella Fund

15 Dec

In solidarity with Kemal Ördek

Last week, Kemal Ordek, a trans* sex worker and the head of Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association, a Red Umbrella Fund grantee-partner, was assaulted and raped in their home in Ankara, Turkey. The Red Umbrella Fund is concerned that these criminal acts are not being taken seriously enough by the Turkish authorities.

The story of Kemal Ordek is not unique. It is the story of many people in the sex worker community around the world. Violence and impunity for this violence are fuelled by laws and social norms that fail to respect the fundamental human rights of sex workers and trans* people. Police corruption further exacerbates the problem.

In Kemal’s own words:

“What I will tell you is not a simple robbery case. It’s not a mere rape case either. This is the story of a series of events that could possibly end in murder. It is a story of the apathy and the denial and ignorance that come after—the story of the surrounding paralysis of a lonely sex worker and an LGBTI.”

Kemal’s case sheds light on several injustices and abuses regularly experienced by those in the trans* sex worker community in Turkey – at the work place, in the streets or even in their homes. It also calls into question the effectiveness of national laws and policies that should be combatting violence, reducing vulnerability and ensuring universal access to rights and justice for sex workers and trans* people. There is no justice if justice isn’t accessible to all.

It’s time to end violence, stigma and discrimination against sex workers and trans* people. We urge the Turkish authorities to take violations against trans* sex workers seriously by conducting a thorough investigation, led by and focused on supporting Kemal’s human rights. In addition, we urge for better laws and policies to protect sex workers and trans* people in Turkey.

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