Asia Catalyst

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Last month, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the nation's Constitution guarantees a right to marriage and equal protection under the law, making same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states. In the aftermath of the ruling, three Chinese LGBT activists discuss--in their own terms--what the landmark decision means for them, their community, and for China.  

Han Ke (Xinjiang Tiantong): Han Ke is the director of Xinjiang Tiantong, a CBO in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. Xinjiang Tiantong was founded in 2004, and works to improve living standards for the LGBT community in Xinjiang by promoting psychological and physiological health. 

Zheng Huang  (Shanghai Xinsheng): Zheng Huang is the director of Shanghai Xinsheng, a CBO founded in 2004 in Shanghai. Shanghai Xinsheng works to promote health and human rights for sex workers and the LGBT community. 

YY: YY* works for a CBO based in Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province. Her CBO is dedicated to promoting the rights of women and sexual minorities and engages actively in the local public education field, focusing on sexual diversity and rights protections.

*Name has been changed


What did you think when you heard the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage?

Han Ke: I was interning at The Los Angeles LGBT Center when I heard about the ruling. I was very excited, and so were the other interns from China. The ruling is something we should all be happy about; it shows that significant changes for the LGBT community are taking place right now.

Zheng Huang: I was very excited the moment I heard the news, and I immediately shared the information in both Chinese and English on my organization's social media platform. I knew that, ahead of the Supreme Court's decision, many states in the US had already legalized same-sex marriage. Now, the nationwide approval will have a significant impact on the legalization of same-sex marriage in other countries.

YY: Of course I was very happy.  I found the news extremely encouraging. It makes me believe that nothing is impossible. As long as I continue what I am doing, I believe I will be able to witness the day when same-sex marriage is also legalized in China.

How would you characterize the attitude of the Chinese general public towards LGBT people? Do you think the US ruling will help to change attitudes in China?

Han Ke: We are paying close attention to public perceptions of the LGBT community in China. I've noticed that what happened in the US has not reduced public biases towards the LGBT community. Most Internet users in China hold negative views of LGBT people. Even though a select few show understanding or support, most of these people view LGBT people as being mentally ill; thus, their support is out of sympathy for the "patients." As for the status quo of marriage in China, I think the government intentionally neglects and ignores the LGBT community and their legitimate demands. Basic rights for LGBT people are not protected in China.

Zheng Huang: The Chinese general public still has a discriminatory attitude towards LGBT people, because they think homosexuality is against traditional Chinese culture. For example, unmarried civil servants face greater challenges in getting promoted. The US's ruling won't have notable influence on the public's prejudice in the near future. However, from a long-term perspective, it is bound to play a constructive role in legalization of same-sex marriage in China.

YY: An online survey shows that over 70% of Chinese Internet users have unfriendly attitudes towards LGBT people. In my experience, coming out in real life--as opposed to online--is less likely to yield hostility from strangers. The US's ruling has obviously drawn more people to this issue and ignited new discussions in China. It has presented gay people in a positive light to the general public. In these new discussions, China's public biases towards LGBT people have come to the surface. I think concrete changes won't happen until LGBT issues are confronted and debated over and over again across China.

 

Have you or anyone you know experienced LGBT-related discrimination regarding the right to marriage or other human rights?

Han Ke: Most of the Chinese LGBT people I know live under extreme repression due to discrimination from the general public. Most of them don't have the courage to come out as LGBT, so when they reach what is deemed a "marriage-appropriate age," many choose to get married without telling their partners about their sexual orientation, or have a sham marriage with another gay person of the opposite sex. This is the only way out for them to avoid stigma and discrimination in life caused by their sexual orientations.

Zheng Huang: Yes. Personally, I feel very strongly about this issue. In the city I live and work in--Shanghai--the house purchase policy does not allow for unmarried people without a Shanghai Hukou (local registry) to purchase homes. This means that non-local LGBT people in Shanghai are virtually excluded from buying a home of their own. For another example, some LGBT people that I know work in government sectors and have trouble getting promoted; supervisors assume that unmarried people are not mature enough to shoulder big responsibilities. However, it goes without saying that disclosing their sexual orientation at work will ruin their career.

YY: Of course--without marriage, a lot of rights and benefits are inaccessible for us. For example, the annual health check-up that is provided by employers does not include gynecological examinations for unmarried female employees. Also, affordable housing is only available to married couples. In general, in public spaces--especially in professional environments--discrimination against sexual minorities and unmarried people is ubiquitous. It is very common practice for companies to refuse to recruit gay or unmarried people.


What impact do you think the US ruling will have on the legalization of same-sex marriage in China?

Han Ke: In my opinion, the impact of the legalization of same-sex marriage in the US on China is very small. I don't see any fundamental changes right now in China as a result.

Zheng Huang: There won't be any impact in the short term.

YY: Although the US's ruling is very encouraging, I am afraid it doesn't have any notable impact on the situation in China, as most people here are still homophobic. However, it does have a strong influence in raising public awareness and in generating respect for homosexuality, marriage, and same-sex marriage. This is probably the first time when these issues have come to the general public's attention and it has sparked constructive debates.


What do you think Chinese LGBT people and allies can do to advance same-sex marriage, eliminate discrimination, and achieve equality?

Han Ke: The Chinese LGBT community has made strong appeals for same-sex marriage legalization, but the community is not yet willing enough to stand up and speak out. Most LGBT people here are still struggling to achieve basic living standards. A person must be relatively independent financially and socially to spread awareness on these issues. Then, they must express rational demands and strive for increased understanding and support from society.

Zheng Huang: For the time being, Chinese LGBT people are treated unfairly in the marriage system. We need to take firm action in educating the general public and helping them to understand that the union between two same-sex people is no different from a heterosexual union, and should be allowed with equal rights. More people should speak out and work to make society view this issue differently.

YY: Firstly, LGBT people need to speak out and increase visibility to become accepted by the general public. Unfortunately, right now LGBT people are stuck combatting biased public attitudes and homophobic individuals that we meet in our daily lives. In terms of our legal rights, it is a long journey to progress. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the law protects LGBT equal rights, but we have to start that campaign from the scratch.

 

 


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Kid's Sun Group is a community-based organization (CBO), based in Hanoi, of people living with HIV and key affected populations in Viet Nam.

Founded on January 15, 2008, the group has been designing programs to respond to their communities' needs for over seven years. Staffed and led by people living with HIV (PLHIV) and key affected populations, the organization focuses on HIV prevention for youth at high risk of contracting HIV, and on reducing the levels of stigma and discrimination experienced by PLHIV and KPs--such as Viet Nam's LGBT communities, sex workers, and people who use drugs. The organization's vision is: to become a fully sustainable CBO conducting successful evidence-based advocacy that helps protect the rights of PLHIV and KPs in accessing treatment.

Together with Asia Catalyst, Kid's Sun Group is quickly realizing this goal.

This year, Kid's Sun Group is one of eight CBOs from four Asian countries (Cambodia, China, Viet Nam, and Myanmar) participating in Asia Catalyst's Regional Rights Training Program. The Regional Rights Training Program is currently building the capacity of CBOs to identify priority issues of discrimination against PLHIV in healthcare settings in their respective countries; conduct documentation that builds a solid evidence-base of rights violations; and carry out comprehensive human rights-based advocacy on the chosen priority issues.

Kid's Sun Group is nearly halfway through the program. With Asia Catalyst's support, they have chosen to focus on the issue of discrimination against women living with HIV when accessing sexual and reproductive health services in Viet Nam. According to the CBO's research, "in certain provinces and cities around Viet Nam, thanks in part to the projects funded by PEPFAR and The Global Fund, stigma and discrimination toward PLHIV in health service centers has been significantly reduced...however, many healthcare workers still lack basic knowledge on HIV, which leads them to discriminate against many key populations." Women living with HIV are particularly affected; Kid's Sun Group reports, "according to 2012 research by The National Network of PLHIV in Viet Nam, many doctors advise women living with HIV to become sterilized or abort pregnancies due to their HIV status--a recommendation in stark contrast to globally accepted practices."    

To lay the foundation for effective advocacy, this quarter Asia Catalyst guided Kid's Sun Group to draft a context analysis of its focus issue. The group concluded that, "while Viet Nam has made international commitments to respect non-discrimination and equal rights by being party to the ICCPR, ICESCR and CEDAW and has also promulgated the Law on HIV AIDS Prevention and Control, the law's implementation has been weak and fails to protect the right of men who have sex with men and transgender persons". The CBO also concluded that certain cultural norms, including the elevation of men above women in traditional Vietnamese society, will be a challenge when advocating for the health rights of women living with HIV.

Kid's Sun Group is meeting these challenges head on. The group is in the process of conducting comprehensive interviews with twenty women living with HIV in four of Hanoi's districts: Hoang Mai, Tu Liem, Dong Da and Tay Ho. The results of these interviews, and those of a widely distributed questionnaire developed with Asia Catalyst, will help form the basis of Kid's Sun Group's upcoming advocacy project, which will be supported by continued coaching and a sub-grant from Asia Catalyst.

As for the Regional Rights Training Program, Thanh Thao of Kid's Sun Group says that "working with Asia Catalyst has helped us to gain key knowledge on discrimination and human rights frameworks, and to learn from and collaborate with other domestic and international organizations, such as our peers from Myanmar, Cambodia, and China...this will help us to grow our networks to mobilize new resources, especially because many of our sponsors in Viet Nam are reducing funding and may leave the country in the near future. We will apply the skills and knowledge learned with Asia Catalyst into making new projects for advocacy and community mobilization, projects that are both effective and truly community-led."  

 



Welcome to Asia Catalyst's monthly media roundup. 

 

Public awareness is key to understanding and promoting human rights. Here is this last month's news reflecting developments for some of the key affected populations that we work with. 



LGBT and MSM                             

Trending Topic
LGBT communities around the globe held events for June's annual LGBT Pride Month. In Asia, several countries organized public events, including marches, movie festivals, and anti-discrimination protests. However, Pride progress was not universal in the region; despite Malaysia's landmark 2014 case declaring one state's anti-cross-dressing Islamic law unconstitutional, this precedent has not been heeded by other states. On June 16, nine transgender women in Malaysia's Kelantan state were arrested, and subsequently convicted, for being "a male person posing as a woman." 

Key Links
Analysis
Although Pride Month provides a platform for many Asian activists to increase awareness and conduct advocacy around LGBT issues, discrimination remains pervasive throughout the region. Homosexuality is effectively illegal in at least twenty Asian countries, and homosexual acts can carry the death penalty in several. In the countries where homosexuality is not explicitly outlawed, widespread discrimination often prevents the realization of most LGBT human rights. Notably, Kelantan state's decision to prosecute nine transgender women undermines Malaysia's landmark November 2014 ruling that Negeri Sembilan's anti-cross-dressing provision was unconstitutional. The ruling was a breakthrough victory for the country's transgender community, as it protected their freedom of expression to dress according to their gender identities. Of the nine transgender women convicted this month, all face fines and two have been given one month prison terms. 

In this landscape, the high number of June Pride rallies held in Asia this year is a small but important step towards greater recognition for the LGBT community; China, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Viet Nam and several other Asian countries all held widely publicized events. Asian LGBT activists often focus on marriage rights. However, to combat all rights abuses, activists must also urge governments in Asia to step up anti-discrimination laws and other rights protections for LGBT individuals facing dangerous, often deadly, discrimination across the board. 


Trending Topic
After several marriage equality advocacy campaigns conducted by LGBT groups in Taiwan, two cities in the country have passed legislation allowing for official household registration for same-sex couples. Although the registration presents a step forward for LGBT couples, the move still offers no legal protection or rights for same sex couples.  

Key Links

Analysis
Kaohsiung and Taipei's move to offer household registration to same sex couples is largely symbolic, rather than legal, as Taiwanese civil law still stipulates that only a man and a woman can lawfully marry. The two cities will issue "sunshine registrations" for same-sex partners, but provide no official certificates or documents recognizing the partnerships upon registration. The registration will have no legal effect and will not confer inheritance rights or legal status to the relationship, and will not appear on government IDs.
 
However, this action can be viewed as the potential first small step towards full legal recognition of same-sex unions in the country and are particularly significant as they respond directly to advocacy conducted by local LGBT groups. While LGBT communities are marginalized in Taiwan and around Asia, given the necessary skills and resources, they are powerful potential engines of change. International groups interested in promoting the rights of LGBT groups and advocating for marriage equality should work with rising LGBT activists to support community-led solutions to discrimination. 


People who use drugs

Trending Topic 
The Philippines has suspended a harm reduction study exploring the effectiveness of clean-needle exchanges in mitigating new HIV infections, citing national anti-drug laws. The study focused on Cebu, a city where 52.3% of people who inject drugs are HIV positive. According to the Philippine National AIDS Council, this infection rate is up from 0.4% in 2007, and the use of injected drugs has steadily escalated over the last eight years. 

Key Links

Analysis
The State-ordered suspension of Cebu's clean-needle exchange study represents a dangerous regression in efforts to protect the health of people who inject drugs in the Philippines. Cebu is ranked number one in terms of HIV prevalence among all Philippine cities, with the use of injectable drugs and needle sharing noted as the leading mode of HIV transmission. The now-suspended harm reduction study--which was sanctioned by the Philippines' government, funded by the World Bank, and supported by local and international health-oriented NGOs--would have provided evidence of the effectiveness that such programs have in combatting the spread of HIV.
 
In 2014, a briefing paper prepared by the World Health Organization, the Department of Health (DOH), and the Cebu City Health Department called Cebu's HIV epidemic "explosive" and in need of "urgent action." Additionally, the Philippines is said to be one of nine countries whose rates of new HIV infections in the general population have grown by more than 25 percent since 2001. The pandering of politicians to increase popularity by demanding a "hard line" on drug use--as seems to be the case here--is, thus, deplorable. It directly blocks much-needed evidence on HIV prevention methods to the country, and will add fuel to the spread of HIV among people who use drugs, their families, and their communities nationwide. 

PLHIV

Trending Topic 
Heads of government, ministers and other high-level officials from 50 countries and territories in Asia and the Pacific endorsed the Report of the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS, along with the Regional Framework for Action on HIV and AIDS beyond 2015 at the 71st session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) this month. Urging progress forward, Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, asserted that Asia-Pacific can be "the first region to end the AIDS epidemic."  

Key Links

Analysis
There are an estimated 4.9 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Asia and the Pacific. According to the latest figures, the number of new HIV infections in the region has decreased since 2001.  Governments' unified endorsement this month of the Regional Framework for Action on HIV and AIDS beyond 2015 shows the strong commitment of Asian countries and territories to continue combatting the epidemic and to ensure that the health and human rights of PLHIV are protected.

The adopted framework consists of three distinct areas of action, the first of which will be especially important in protecting the health of PLHIV and in combatting the spread of HIV:  "addressing legal and policy barriers for ensuring universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support." A myriad of barriers to prevention, treatment, care, and support still stand between Asian marginalized communities and the care that they require. Discrimination in healthcare settings, arbitrary detention for sex workers and people who use drugs, and the police practice of using the possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution and, thus, grounds for arrest rank among them. For Asia to achieve Michel Sidibé's goal of becoming "the first region to end the AIDS epidemic," these barriers must be demolished, with full support of Asian government leaders and high-level officials.  
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New positions announcements

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Asia Catalyst is hiring around the globe! If you are looking to make a transition to an innovative, fast-paced organization focusing on the right to health, see these position announcements and apply today.






Position type: Full time contract, 40 hours/week; minimum 6-month commitment 
Location: Beijing, People's Republic of China 
Reports to: Director of Capacity Building and Community Initiatives 
Pay rate: [Associate-Beijing]; US $ 2,060 / month. 
Deadline for Applications: May 29, 2015 
Ideal start date: July 1, 2015 or ASAP 

Asia Catalyst works with community-based organizations (CBOs) from marginalized communities in Asia that promote the right to health. We train our partners to meet high standards of effective and democratic governance, to establish a stable foundation for future growth, and to conduct rigorous human rights research and advocacy. We aim to help our partners become leading advocates at the local, national and global levels.

Asia Catalyst is a US based not for profit organization with offices in New York and Beijing. The Capacity Building and Community Initiatives (CBCI) team in China is seeking a full-time program associate to start July 1, 2015. 

The program associate will be responsible for developing and delivering Asia Catalyst's ongoing CBO capacity-building projects, including small group trainings, individual organization coaching, and other tailored workshops. The program associate will work in tandem with the program officer to conduct trainings to CBOs working on health rights in Chinese, and to provide coaching support using a variety of communication tools, as well as in person in between workshops. As needed, the position includes development of new workshop materials, re-editing of existing material, and preparing strong material for publication in print and online.

QUALIFICATIONS
• MA/MS or other graduate degree; or BA with equivalent work experience
• Experience facilitating workshops and conducting trainings for a variety of audiences
• Fluent spoken and written Mandarin Chinese and English
• Field experience in China
• Knowledge of HIV/AIDS or other public health issues in relation to the right to health and issues
facing marginalized populations
• Ability to work on a flexible schedule to accommodate communications over several time zones
• Excellent problem-solving abilities
• Excellent presentation and communication skills (both written and oral)
• Familiarity with Monitoring & Evaluation metrics and procedures desirable
• Strong team player who can also work independently when needed
• Adventurous and entrepreneurial outlook
• Community organizing and advocacy experience preferred
• Experience with Training-of-Trainers-focused workshop scenarios desirable


RESPONSIBILITIES
• Work collaboratively with program team to outline training frameworks and contents
• Draft or edit curricula for quarterly training sessions in the areas of nonprofit management and
community-based advocacy
• Set guidelines in line with program objectives and conduct screening and selection of program
participants through application review and interviews
• Prepare and co-facilitate training sessions and follow-up coaching in Mandarin Chinese
• For smaller workshop settings, lead facilitation of organizational management workshops for grassroots CBOs
• Organize and implement site visits to partner organizations
• Revise workshop curricula regularly based on workshop feedback
• Identify needs of and develop resources to increase learning opportunities for grassroots CBOs
• Co-facilitate training of trainers and provide ongoing support to Asia Catalyst Assistant Trainers
and Certified Trainers
• Monitor subgranting projects and provide necessary technical support
• Become a trusted resource and advocate for our grassroots partners
• Work collaboratively with program team to monitor program quality and evaluate impact
• Assist in grant writing and regular narrative reporting
• Coordinate logistics of travel, and assist in administrative & financial tasks as needed

Applicants must have the right to work and reside in China. Asia Catalyst will not pay relocation. 

Interested applicants should submit the following in English to Gisa Dang at info@asiacatalyst.org: 

• one page cover letter including the position you are applying for, how you heard of this opening, and a description of relevant experience and qualifications.
• résumé or CV 
• two page unedited writing sample (In English) 
• two page unedited writing sample (In Chinese) 
• contact details for two references Please title the email "CBCI CHINA PA." Applicants who do not include all of these materials will not be considered. We will only contact applicants we wish to interview. Please no calls.

To view this position announcement as a PDF, see here. 
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Sun Luqing founded Home for Hemophilia Patients in 2004 alongside a group of his peers living with Hemophilia. As the biggest organization working on Hemophilia issues in Shandong Province, China, Home for Hemophilia has filled a gap in the region for over a decade. The organization has 3 staff and 4 key volunteers, serving more than 400 community members.

After Sun Luqing completed Asia Catalyst's Yearlong CBO Training Program in 2014, Home for Hemophilia Patients crafted an advocacy plan to respond to changes in Shandong Province's Rural Cooperative Medical System (RCMC). China began the RCMC in 2002 to strengthen its rural health system, improve access to health care, and reduce the financial burden of medical costs for the rural population. By the start of 2013, the System is said to have reached 805 million rural dwellers (98% of the total rural population). However, certain restrictions to the System--and Province-level policies--left some marginalized groups without appropriate coverage.

Enter Sun Luqing and Home for Hemophilia Patients.

At its inception, the RCMC offered patients in Shandong  around 80% reimbursement of all medical expenses. In early 2015, sweeping changes were implemented in Shandong. Hospitals were categorized into first, second, and third tiers, with reimbursement rates fixed at 90%, 70%, and 55% for inpatient treatment respectively. In addition, Shandong also implemented financial caps. This meant each patient could not receive more than 50,000RMB (US $8,061) for outpatient and 190,000RMB (US $30,600) for inpatient treatment annually.

The danger of the shifting system for people living with Hemophilia was immediately clear to Sun Luqing. Zero first tier hospitals (90% reimbursement) and exceptionally few second tier (70%) carried medicine for Hemophilia. Most patients thus would have to go to the third tier hospitals. Treatment for Hemophilia is costly, and people living with the disease often face complex economic hardship. 

To combat the changes, Home for Hemophilia Patients developed a petition to change the RCMC to offer greater coverage, and to include additional necessary medicines in the reimbursement plans. The CBO circulated the petition to its constituents, gathering nearly fifty signatures from community members.

On January 12, 2015, the group submitted the petition to policy makers at the local Shandong Medical Insurance Bureau. In February, just one month later, the Medical Insurance Bureau committed to discussions on the request to include additional medicine in the reimbursement plan. Then, on April 2, 2015, the Bureau gave a statement that it would increase the outpatient reimbursement financial cap from 50,000 RMB (US $8,061) to 1.5 million RMB (US $241,000) annually. In addition, for inpatient treatment--the Bureau said--the third tier reimbursement rate would rise from 55% to 60%.

By April 15, 2015, one city in Shandong has already been able to implement these changes; some people living with Hemophilia there have already been able to more readily and affordably access necessary medical care and treatment. 

The work is far from over but, in China, incremental victory is often the surest path to success.

Sun Luqing says, "As a result of our CBOs advocacy, the outpatient reimbursement rates for Hemophilia patients in Shandong Province have drastically increased. This will help most people living with Hemophilia to easily and affordably get treatment. As for our organization, we'll keep conducting advocacy on the issue. We know that can create real progress."

 

 

 

 

 

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There are 4.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in Asia and the Pacific today. For this group, HIV-related stigma is pervasive, as is HIV-related discrimination in private and public settings. Discrimination and stigma have a wide array of negative consequences, but discrimination in healthcare settings is particularly egregious, as such practices prevent access to basic, sometimes life-saving, care for millions of people. 

Recognizing this as a crucial issue in the region, Asia Catalyst launches its Regional Rights Training Program this weekend, with a core focus on ending discrimination against PLHIV in healthcare settings

This weekend, March 14-16, the Regional Rights Training Program will bring together 16 civil society leaders, advocates, and members of PLHIV community based organizations (CBOs) from Cambodia, China, Myanmar, and Viet Nam, for the first of an intensive workshop series on human rights documentation and advocacy in Bangkok, Thailand. 

This weekend's workshop will focus on helping our new CBO partners identify key health rights issues affecting their communities, and place them within an international human rights law framework. Representatives of regional UN agencies and community networks will also be on hand for expert advice on advocacy strategies, as well as international guidelines and best practices on preventing and remedying discrimination against PLHIV in healthcare settings. 

Over the next 18 months, partners in the Regional Rights Training Program will increase local knowledge and expertise on research, documentation, and advocacy in their home countries. With support and sub-grants from Asia Catalyst, all of our new partners will conduct extensive documentation and research on the issue of medical discrimination in their countries, and form domestic and regional coalitions to conduct rigorous human rights-based advocacy.   

Asia Catalyst is excited and humbled to see this much-anticipated program take off. We look forward to introducing you to the participants and updating on project activities as they develop. 


Asia Catalyst is grateful to everyone who attended our Spring event at Ethan Cohen New York this week! It was a night of stimulating discussion, sensational art, and delicious food. Asia Catalyst looks forward to continuing the discussion in the days ahead.

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Development and Communications Intern


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Part time:      16-20 hours/week

Reports to:    Development and Communications Coordinator

Start date:     March 2015

Application Deadline: March 9, 2015

Apply to: info@asiacatalyst.org 

 

Asia Catalyst seeks a part time, unpaid intern for an 8-week placement, starting in March 2015 to work in our midtown-Manhattan office. We seek self-starters with a passion for social justice and rule of law who will be an active part of the organization. Candidates with an interest or background in Asia and human rights, particularly the right to health, are encouraged to apply. 

Supervised by the Development and Communications Coordinator, the intern will learn about institutional and individual fundraising and communications strategy and work to promote Asia Catalyst's advocacy objectives and capacity building programs through the organization's growing development department. The intern will primarily work with senior staff to identify and initiate development strategies to maximize the success of Asia Catalyst's regional program. The regional program will bring together community leaders from marginalized groups in Cambodia, China, Myanmar, and Viet Nam to build skills on human rights analysis, documentation, and advocacy. Program participants will conduct rights-based advocacy on the issue of discrimination against people living with HIV (PLHIV) in healthcare settings.

The intern will also draft and manage substantive content for internal and external use to promote Asia Catalyst's other program and advocacy activities in Asia, via our blog, website, and social media accounts. In addition, the intern will also work together with the Development and Communications coordinator and management to update and augment Asia Catalyst's annual fundraising strategy and timeline based on the organization's objectives, current funding streams, and core values.

Qualifications

  • Excellent written communication skills in English required; Asian Language skills (Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese, Khmer) helpful
  • Computer skills: Microsoft Word and Excel, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, ability to learn new programs
  • Strong organizational, time management and communication skills with meticulous attention to detail.
  • Ability to work independently as well as function as a member of a team;
  • Ability to work with all programs, all staff, and across time zones;

 

Responsibilities

  • Work with Development and Communications Coordinator to develop and implement a strategy to support Asia Catalyst's regional program and other activities in Asia; manage content submissions from other staff and partners, research and contribute content;
  • Research new funding sources for Asia Catalyst and help track calls for proposals and statements of interest from prospective donors; identify opportunities for pro bono collaboration or contributions in-kind
  • Research and contribute general content to Asia Catalyst's blog on substantive right to health related issues; use social media to promote the work of Asia Catalyst and our community partners;
  • Generate and implement ideas; identify opportunities in communities, the media, and beyond to highlight Asia Catalyst, its programs, and its events;
  • Track relevant news and research reports about health rights in Asia Catalyst's target communities for monthly media analysis mailings; assist with composing monthly media analysis
  • Participate in bi-weekly staff and volunteer meetings;
  • Support the Executive Director and Development and Communications Coordinator in additional tasks as needed.

Asia Catalyst works with community based organizations from marginalized groups in Asia that promote the right to health. We train our partners to meet high standards of effective and democratic governance, to establish a stable foundation for future growth, and to conduct rigorous human rights research and advocacy. We aim to help our partners become leading advocates at the local, national and global levels.

Asia Catalyst does not discriminate based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, citizenship, age, religion, disability, status, genetic information, military status or any other classification as provided by law.


This position is based in New York, New York, and is unpaid. 

Interested applicants can submit a resume and writing sample to info@asiacatalyst.org by March 9, 2015. No calls please. 



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In November, my colleagues from the Jiaozhou Health and Counseling Center and I were invited to attend a conference titled "Women and HIV in the Context of Commercial Sex." The China Red Ribbon Forum--a platform for government and civil society organizations to discuss HIV and rights issues--and several UN agencies hosted the conference. There, we met officers from UNAIDS, the United Nations Population Fund, the China AIDS Association, sex worker delegations from New Zealand and Vietnam, and staff from domestic organizations that focus on preventing HIV/AIDS for sex workers.

The first thing I learned from this seminar was the "Chatham House Principle " which ensures that participants of the seminar were able to speak freely under guaranteed confidentiality. Under this relaxed and harmonious atmosphere, all participants, including us sex workers, could fully express themselves. 

Ultimately, there were two things that impressed me the most. First, Ms. Catherine Healy, a coordinator from the New Zealand Sex Worker Association, introduced her association. Through many years' effort, they achieved a Reform Law on Prostitution, which de-criminalized prostitution, recognized sex workers' rights, and strengthened the safety and health of sex workers in New Zealand. More surprisingly, local police help sex workers whose clients refuse to pay their service fees. Secondly, the Director of the Department of Handling Administrative Violations from the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice and the chair of the Viet Nam Network of Sex Workers introduced Viet Nam's newly adopted law from 2013 that closed sex worker detention centers.

When I heard this information, I thought, "is de-criminalization of prostitution in China our dream? Can this dream come true one day?" I thought it was impossible, but I heard domestic experts recommend three things that they wanted to discuss with us:

1) Further study the campaign-style crackdown on sex work and its impact on HIV/AIDS services;
2) Pay attention to the use of condoms as evidence and a tool of prostitution, and its impact on HIV/AIDS prevention;
3) Further study the legitimacy, effectiveness and impact of detention education systems on HIV/AIDS prevention.

Experts and community members responded to the three recommendations, and sex workers had the most right to speak on this topic because this issue is closely related to our interests. 

First, because of the crackdown on sex work in Beijing, we have had to change our working venues frequently and can no longer publicize where we work. But clients need to find us to seek our services. Before the crackdown, staff from health centers would come to our work location and provide us with health information, STD tests, and information on the importance of condom use. We could be selective of our customers, and we could say "No" to guests who were drunk, using drugs, or refusing to use condoms. In order to make a living under the crackdown, however, we have had to give up our bargaining power. Now, as long as clients take less time and give enough money, even if there is a risk for us to get an STD, we have to accept them. It is so difficult to make money in this environment.

Compounding the issue, if we are caught and there is a condom, it becomes evidence that the police use to detain us, or even use to put us in a detention center for one year. How could we dare to use condoms under these conditions? 

One expert mentioned at the seminar "Condoms are a birth control/health product that should not be regarded as a prostitution tool/evidence." I cannot agree more with these words. It is a contradiction that encourages us to use condoms during business on the one hand, but use it as evidence to detain us on the other hand. For our health and safety, we should not have to sacrifice the use of condoms any more. 

In terms of Custody and Education, most of my sex worker sisters are single mothers who have their elders to take care of and their children to raise. After being caught, police will put us into Custody and Education Centers without regard to legal procedure. Our families lose income if we are put in detention. The worse thing is that, when the letters from Custody and Education Centers are sent to our hometowns, our privacy is exposed to the public, and our families have been discriminated against. Because of this, the elderly fall ill because of too much worry, and children quit school without being taken care of. Thus, we hope that the Chinese government can think about our situation more humanely, and consider the fact that the Custody and Education system brings huge hurt to our families and us, both mentally and economically. In order to make a living and pay back debt after being detained, we have to start the sex work again and work even harder than before. Custody and Education is thus meaningless and should be canceled!

I think this conference was a serious and beneficial beginning of a platform upon which sex workers can represent all of our sisters' thoughts, concerns, and grievances. We are not sure whether the three recommendations will get the attention of the Chinese government, but we heard that other countries' laws towards sex workers are changing, and their health and safety are more guaranteed than before. 

We believe that their today (rights protections) is our tomorrow. As long as we keep working on it and fighting for our rights, we believe our dream will come true in China in the near future!

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Written by Fan Wenwen, of Jiaozhou Health and Counseling Center