The Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) was established by sex workers in 1994 at the International AIDS Conference held in Yokohama, Japan. Over the years, APNSW has successfully reached out to sex workers in over 22 countries, and supported the establishment of new sex worker groups, fostered solidarity between groups, established partnerships with other networks, and formalized itself into a registered organization.
The network management is sex worker led, and membership consists primarily of sex worker led organisations. Some civil society organisations who provide rights-based services to sex workers and endorse APNSW’s vision, mission, goals and core values are also members. APNSW plays a key role in identifying and creating opportunities for sex workers, analysing trends, critically assessing new research and policies, and engages in advocacy with relevant decision makers to improve the lives of sex workers in Asia and the Pacific. As a network, much of the Secretariat’s work goes into liaising with members in the region; providing information and feedback, moral and technical support, networking and solidarity building, individual coaching, and skills building. APNSW’s longer term goals are agreed on by a Management Committee (MC), which is elected by and from the membership. The MC agrees on the network’s strategies and policy and programme priorities, and monitors progress. A small Secretariat, based in Bangkok, is responsible for program implementation, coordination, and communication.
In 2010, APNSW was the co-organizer with UNFPA and UNAIDS of the landmark Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on HIV and Sex Work (the ‘Pattaya Consultation’). This meeting brought about 50 sex workers around the table with around 90 representatives from UN and governments. In 2011, APNSW held in-depth consultations with sex workers from 14 countries in the region as input for a joint regional work plan on Scaling Up Sex Work Interventions in the region. In 2012, APNSW partnered on the Sex Worker Freedom Festival held in Kolkata. This was an alternative event to the International AIDS conference being held in Washington, USA, which sex workers from around the world were unable to attend due to the USA’s restrictive laws & policies against their work. Since 2014, APNSW has been building the capacity of sex workers in the region by conducting workshops on the Global Fund New Funding Model (NFM) and HIV Treatment Literacy & Advocacy training.