Train­ing aims to bridge gap


A WORK­SHOP to bridge the gap and cre­ate a health­ier work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the sex worker com­mu­nity and po­lice was held re­cently in Suva.

The Strumphet Al­liance Net­work sen­si­ti­sa­tion work­shop was funded by the Red Um­brella Fund.

Project co-or­di­na­tor So­phie Radro­dro said the meet­ing was aligned with the re­form of po­lice pro­ce­dures and prac­tices af­ter Fiji’s March 2016 rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion Against Tor­ture and Other Cruel, In­hu­man or De­grad­ing Treat­ment or Pun­ish­ment.

“Also to im­prove over­all ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness of the jus­tice sec­tor to deliver ac­cess to jus­tice, which is a fol­low-up from our 2018 work­shop with the po­lice on the treat­ment of sex work­ers and un­der­stand­ing the hu­man rights of sex work­ers,” Ms Radro­dro said.

One of the key is­sues dis­cussed was the rights of a sex worker when ar­rested or de­tained by po­lice — par­tic­u­larly the first hour in­ter­view pro­ce­dure and pro­cesses.

She said Fiji’s sex work­ers had en­coun­tered a lot of is­sues with this in the past.

“From crawl­ing in muddy drains, swim­ming out to the sea, sprint­ing 10 me­tres and the list goes on.

“They have en­coun­tered pub­lic ha­rass­ment, ver­bal abuse, taken to po­lice sta­tions and de­tained mostly on loi­ter­ing and re­lated sce­nar­ios.

“Their work has never come easy but lives are de­pend­ing on the old pro­fes­sion to pro­vide food on the table and en­sur­ing daily ex­penses are met.”

She said sex work­ers in Fiji had longed for mu­tual com­mu­nity en­gage­ment by which their voices could be heard.

“Sex work­ers have been struc­turally vi­o­lated in many ways from de­prived with ba­sic hu­man rights to not be­ing able to ac­cess con­doms which could en­sure the safety as­pect of the work.”

She said the chal­lenges were deep-rooted, mak­ing pol­icy changes and mind changes im­pos­si­ble to tackle.

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