Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Supreme Court of US (SCOTUS) Strikes down anti-prostitution pledge; Lessons for an Africa based/targeting Equality Activist

Systems that entrench marginalisation have been dealt a blow. For those of us who have invested so much time to reach out to groups most at risk of HIV infection have been empowered to address the epidemic in the most effective way possible. First and foremost the term ‘prostitution’ and ‘sex-work’ as they apply to a public health practitioner and activist will have a far larger meaning and human face to it. Secondly stigma and discrimination which have been the sands in which to hide many of the service providers’ heads have been flattened. Thirdly this decision has opened ways for many countries’ embracing policy towards sex-work. There is bound to be progress in leaps in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. A landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has made it so. Love, Liberty and pursuit of happiness is been made even firmer. This landmark decision is loaded with opportunities and possibilities in defending independence and access to services by all. This means that policy and resources will be committed towards interventions in which those caught in vulnerabilities that expose one to HIV/AIDS or STIs are provided treatment, healing and managed without discrimination. It means that those in sex-work will organize, in their organizations they will create spaces for leadership and in these organizations such elements like self determination, esteem and duty will be possible. No more will sex-work be looked at with ridicule. As sexual minorities, this demography will join the system of those who demand social services and will influence service delivery. Those in service delivery will no longer have their hands tied. Sex-work has now been put on the radar. Sex-work cannot be separated from public health. According to UNAIDS, the decision would “expand and improve the global AIDS response even further”. Funds from US will go a long way in ensuring this. The US has been very instrumental since 2003, when it adopted the United States Leadership against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act in 2003, which authorised the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-the largest health initiative undertaken by one country to address the global health epidemic. The commitment to untangle generations of patriarchal, chauvinistic, dominance-subjugation, master-slavery tendencies that seep into the way most of policy, programme and activities are done will be possible:  There will be a degree amount of and planning that targets sex-work and its effects in Africa; Issues like access, equal power, freedom of movement, access to jobs, access to jobs, ownership to property, equal treatment before the law, equal pay for equal work, access to resources, controlling dress, violence will be discouraged in the strongest terms against those in sex-work by those used to lynching; NGOs will address the HIV/AIDS epidemic with evidence-based intervention free from political agenda and discrimination and;  use of proper language will be possible. These themes will form the activist agenda. Such thematic issues like: Sexual and reproductive health and rights will be expanded upon and provided logistics. Women and girls worldwide are going to reap so much from this decision. It will fulfil their basic human right to life saving health care. Health groups will no longer be forced by the US Government to denounce prostitution as a condition of receiving federal funding to fight HIV/AIDS around the world after the Supreme Court made a free-speech ruling on June 20 (The Lancet, Volume 381, No. 9885, June 29-July 5, 2013).  Peter Piot of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and the former director of UNAIDS described this court decision as “victory of public health and scientific evidence over ideology and bigotry”. The pooled HIV prevalence among sex-workers in Sub-Saharan Africa is 36.9%. HIV must not win. Let us work towards including everyone in the fight to bring AIDS epidemic to an end.

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