ACHIEVEMENTS OF NEW GENERATION HUMANITARIAN NGO IN ENSURING THE WELLBEING AND human rights protection OF SEX WORKERS IN ARMENIA IN 2021
Since 2019, initiated by the Global Network of Sex Work Programs (NSWP), Sex Worker Pride Day is celebrated every year on September 14 as a milestone for the sex worker rights movement.
This day is to celebrate sex workers’ self-determination and enhance their visibility as well as show the achievements of sex worker-led and field oriented organisations. The other three international sex worker rights days observed every year are 3rd March, (International Sex Workers Rights Day), 2nd June (International Sex Workers Day), and 17th December (International Day to end violence against sex workers), and call attention to sex workers labor rights, access to justice and violence against sex workers.
Globally sex workers face many challenges in day to day life. They are being marginalised, stigmatised and stripped from their rights. Their voices are often ignored but they never stop pursuing the rights they desperately need. The sex workers rights movement is powerful with a vibrant and diverse community that has a drive and compassion that’s too big to be stopped by the difficulties they are facing. Sex Worker Pride extends to all communities marginalised by criminalisation, discrimination and stigma across the sex worker movement and celebrates the diversity within the sex worker community.
Sex Worker Pride is another opportunity for New Generation Humanitarian NGO to celebrate and share the achievements in the field of human rights protection and ensuring the wellbeing of the sex worker in Armenia, registered over the last year.
In 2021 NGNGO continued to work within its 4 strategic goals:
- human rights and advocacy,
- access to healthcare,
- capacity building and empowerment,
- humanitarian assistance.
Accordingly the NGO provided legal support; ensured court representation; conducted needs assessment, documented and reported about human rights violations, provided HIV Prevention services, STIs screening and treatment, referrals for Pre- and Post-Exposure Prophylaxes for HIV, COVID-19 prevention materials; humanitarian support, including financial, food and shelter assistance, as well as technical assistance to the NGO beneficiaries.
Since August 2018 NGNGO has been implementing HIV Prevention projects among Sex Workers (SWs) of Armenia with financial support of the RA Ministry of Health from the funds of The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in cooperation with the National Center for Infectious Diseases CJSC of the RA Ministry of Health.
In 2021, 3893 SWs were provided HIV prevention and related health services, including HIV prevention materials (condoms), COVID-19 prevention materials (masks and alcogels) and education materials (booklets, SITs screening and treatment referrals, testing services for HIV, 23 people tested initially positive for HIV and were referred to NCID for follow-up care and treatment.
119 legal consultation services were provided by New Generation Humanitarian NGO to SWs in 2021. They received assistance in preparation and submission of reports, complaints and claims to relevant state and law enforcement bodies, as well as they were provided support during their contact with the police, court representation. E.g. the case of assassination attempt by a client on a trans* person providing sex services was reported to the police and a criminal case was initiated, as a result, the court found the offender guilty. Based on NGNGO complaint about labour right violation of а beneficiary, administrative proceedings were launched and the employer was fined for the violations.
Among the principles and strategic goals of New Generation Humanitarian NGO is to provide social assistance to their beneficiaries in need. The NGNGO has a charity fund (2050142002111005 for AMD) for provision of this assistance, which is formed through donations from NGNGO staff, local and international benefactors․ Projects and assistance programs were also implemented including social assistance to NGNGO beneficiary groups, including sex workers, within 2021, too.
In 2021, over 120 SWs were provided with social assistance, including food packages and prevention materials – face masks, alcogels, and temporary shelters were provided to 12 SWs left without a place to live and source of income due to stigma and discrimination as well as due to the pandemic-caused crisis. The provision of social assistance to sex workers and other beneficiary groups of NGNGO continues in 2022, too.
In 2021-2022 New Generation Humanitarian NGO also organized different advocacy meetings and training sessions for CSW community representatives, as well as online media/photo campaigns dedicated to the protection of human rights and dignity of sex workers in Armenia:
- On April 14, 2022, the first sex workers and trans* people national conference took place in Yerevan, bringing together many participants from all over Armenia.
- On May 10, 2022, focus group discussions on the needs assessment of the key populations (MSM, CSW and trans* people) in the transition plan of Armenia from international funding of HIV services into domestic funding were conducted.
- SEX WORKERS SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO JUSTICE: New Generation Humanitarian NGO, National Trans Coalition human rights NGO and more than 20 female and trans* sex workers from all over Armenia made a joint statement on the International Sex Workers’ Day, June 2, 2022.
- New Generation Humanitarian NGO conducted a photo-flashmob on Instagram page dedicated to International Sex Workers’ Day, June 2, 2022.
- On July 20-22, 2022, capacity building training for the representatives of the beneficiary groups of HIV prevention programs (MSM, CSW and trans) was held in Tsakhkadzor, organized by the New Generation Humanitarian NGO.
- On July 21-22, 2022, capacity building training was held for CSWs by New Generation Humanitarian NGO (NGNGO).
- Training sessions for sex workers and other key populations of HIV prevention programs aimed at developing the capacities of HIV key populations in the areas of sexuality, leadership, HIV prevention, right to health, promoting the development of safe sexual behavior among the beneficiaries, and their engagement in HIV related decision-making processes, were held by New Generation Humanitarian NGO in the cities of Vanadzor and Gyumri, Armenia, in September, 2021.
- From August 3 to 6 2021, infectious disease doctor Nikolay Lunchenkov, health expert of the Eurasian Coalition for Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity (ECOM) was invited by New Generation Humanitarian NGO (NGNGO) from Germany to conduct working meetings on the topic of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP) for stakeholders engaged in planning and realization of PrEP and healthcare workers in the field of HIV prevention and treatment and for NGNGO outreach workers providing HIV related services to MSM, trans* and sex worker communities.
Sex work shall be recognised as decent work in Armenia and New Generation Humanitarian NGO will continuously advocate for its legalization in Armenia, removal of legal barriers, facilitation of access to healthcare and other basic services for sex workers, simultaneously we work and will continue to work for the capacity building and empowerment of the sex workers’ community in Armenia developing leadership and activism in the community and ability to speak and stand up for their rights.