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Training for Sex Workers on Community Mobilization and Media

The Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) have organized a 3 days long Community Mobilization and Media training for sex workers that took place on December 5-8, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. There were 10 sex workers at the training, who came from the countries of SWAN region, majority of which do not have formal or informal groups of sex workers yet.

The participants from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Serbia, and Slovakia came to exchange their experience about activism, community mobilization, and to define main problems/issues that sex workers are facing in their countries. They also came to gain new ideas on how to do activism, write messages, use social media in community mobilization and to learn about the global sex workers movement. Since most of the participant were for the first time on SWAN training, there was also a short presentation about SWAN, ICRSE and NSWP made by SWAN staff and Luca Stevenson, ICRSE Coordinator, who cordially agreed to be one of the training’s facilitators.

During the training the participants shared information about the main issues faced by sex workers in their countries. These included violence from police, clients and within the community, criminalizing legal framework, discrimination, stigmatization and multiple stigmatization of LGBTQI / Roma sex workers etc. The participants stressed the situation of jealousy and competition among sex workers, which strongly impedes the community mobilization.

They also practiced writing statements and delivering video messages, as well as planning various types of actions for community mobilization. The training also included sessions on sex workers movement history, legal frameworks for sex work, methods of actions and organizing, creative activism, alliance building, funding, social media and online privacy led by the facilitators.

“I liked the feeling of unity and empowerment during the training. Also I really learned a lot about the situation of sex workers in other regions. I felt safe and supported, which is really important”, said one of the participants.

Another participant shared the following impressions about the training: “The training was fantastically cool… I have discovered a lot of interesting and useful things, and I even learned something. I have met very nice people, and got to know how the situation looks like and which problems they have in their countries. I also shared the problems we face in Poland. I would like to thank you all for what you are doing for us. Huge thank you to the SWAN team!”

Luca Stevenson from ICRSE, one of the facilitators, expressed his opinion about the training as follows: “It was a real privilege to work with SWAN on the regional training on community-mobilisation and media. I am really hopeful that this three day training will be the catalyst for greater and lasting change in the region with sex workers empowered to mobilise their community, use media strategically and advocate for their rights.”

Roxana, Program Officer at SWAN, said: "I was happy to see again familiar faces and meet new people as well. this training was a good opportunity to exchange experiences and strategies for the first steps of sex workers mobilizing. the energy was great!"

Altogether, the training was an inspiration for both participants and facilitators. A lot of the participants realized that they all have similar problems and that they are not alone. SWAN expresses its gratitude to all the participants, translators, allies and service providers for their support.