[COMMENTARY] Police Crackdowns in China: The Health and Human Rights of Sex Workers

The following is a cross post from the Health and Human Rights Journal. The journal and blog provide a forum for action-oriented dialogue among human rights practitioners.

By Meg Davis

Chinese authorities hold periodic sweeps to detain sex workers, drug users, and other ‘social undesirables’ en masse in advance of national holidays and major government conferences. Sex workers, including feminist activist Ye Haiyan (also known as Hooligan Sparrow) are increasingly vocal in raising concerns about the effects of these raids, highlighting the hardships faced by the lowest-paid sex workers.

In the often-heated international debate about criminal penalties on sex work, we rarely hear the voices of sex workers themselves.  But in China, a new network representing Chinese sex workers says that police crackdowns don’t stop sex work – they only drive sex workers further underground, putting them at higher risk of violence and HIV/AIDS.


[COMMENTARY] Sex Workers Breaking New Ground in China and Myanmar

Ye Haiyan self-portrait with poster, which reads “Legalize sex work and decriminalize prostitution! Sex work is work!”

By Meg Davis

The crisis of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is creating incentive and space for mobilization of marginalized communities, and
otherwise restrictive states such as China and Myanmar (Burma) are largely allowing it. In recent months, both Chinese and Burmese sex worker-led organizations have moved into the public eye.



[NEWS] Criminalization of Drug Use Fuels AIDS 毒品利用有罪化加剧艾滋病传播

New evidence that criminalization of drug use fuels HIV/AIDS


A special issue of the medical journal The Lancet,
produced for the International AIDS Conference, published a ground-breaking
series of articles and commentaries on the global HIV epidemic among people who
use drugs. Drawing on their comprehensive examination of hundreds of studies, the
journal’s editors called for an evidence- and rights-based response to HIV
among people who use drugs: “Criminalization
has reduced access to health care for people at risk of drug use…Put simply,
locking people up does not work.”
journal’s articles provide evidence showing that the most neglected strategy, a
human rights-based approach, is the the most effective tool in reversing the