By Zhang Lan and Li Man
From January 14-16, 2010, the Chinese Sex Workers' Network held its second national training workshop for sex work NGOs in Qingdao. The purpose was to help build the capacity of staff at sex work NGOs, as well as targeted training for staff on project management, institution building, project expansion, and so on.
Under the guidance of these experts, Phoenix staffperson Zhang Lan was able for the first time to systematically study project planning, the need for clear concepts behind program design, and got some information about international organizations that support sex workers. Information about sex work and law is extremely important to our organization, so we're delighted that Zhang Lan can pass on what she learned about legal information to our sisters, as the sisters really lack this kind of information. Because of their long-term work in the sex industry, our sisters have internalized discrimination. They think that it is natural for police to attack them, and they don't have high self-esteem, so when they get into conflicts with the authorities they don't know what their rights are.
The training also covered "occupational safety". Many sisters are raped, gang raped, robbed, or victims of violence. Often they live in silence out of fear of exposure, and do not dare to report the identity of their attackers, which only contributes to the arrogance of the criminals. In our work, we encourage our sisters who have these kinds of experiences to report it as far as possible, using the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Through our small group discussions, we share information about these violent clients, so that sisters won't take their money. We also encourage sisters to work in pairs, so that clients have no opportunity to become violent.
On projects that target sex workers, Zhang Lan learned how to monitor and assess implementation of the project and how to include some information on STDs and HIV/AIDS. Zhang Lan's feeling was that in order to do a good project, you really need to have a good team, and to build good working relationships with local government agencies, as well as continuing to improve the abiliity of staff people.
Zhang Lan and Li Man are staff of Phoenix (苦草工作室), an organization of sex workers and women with HIV in Yunnan Province, China.