UN agencies expand sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and strengthen governance and financial sustainability for brothel-based sex workers
Joint UNICEF-UNAIDS fund provides sex workers with seed money for alternative entrepreneurial initiatives, offers integrated SRH and HIV-prevention programmes.
The Sex Workers Network of Bangladesh, with the help of a joint UNICEF and UNAIDS fund, initiated a range of income-generating activities for the Network and for aged sex workers and others who are willing to engage in different professions other than sex work in order to strengthen the Network and their livelihoods. An example is a restaurant established beside Kamalapur Station which is run by a Network member. The Network receives a part of the income from this restaurant’s earning which is being deposited in the Network mother fund. Besides this, the Network is supporting other members from different member organizations with seed money for entrepreneurial initiatives. The Sex Workers Network is also preparing and supplying food on a commercial basis to different offices.
Integrated SRH and HIV prevention programme including prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV was initiated for 740 female sex workers (FSW) through a collaboration among UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF and CSOs. The programme was subsequently expanded to another 9 brothels covering approximately 3170 FSW under the leadership of UNFPA. Almost 1000 sex workers were tested for HIV and two were found positive; about 500 FSW were tested for TB; VIA test was done for screening of carcinoma cervix for around 400 FSW; about 800 sex workers were screened for breast cancer; almost 50 pregnant women received antenatal and postnatal care; almost 1500 episodes of STI cases were managed; and about 400,000 male condoms were distributed. In addition, Community Squads were formed to address gender-based violence (GBV) linked to se.