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CARAM eNews June 2007
CARAM Asia Partners Capitalised On AIDS Week
CARAM Asia partners capitalised on the momentum of actions that went on during the Global AIDS Week of Action from 20 to 26 May 2007 by launching or participated in various programmes.

Migrant Services Centre(MSC) activated its campaign against stigmatisation of HIV positive migrants in Sri Lanka on 24 May 2007. This campaign include a series of 20 programmes and the one day workshop on 24 May, was its first programme among its series to mitigate stigmatisation of HIV positive returnee migrants.

About 25 migrants attended the workshop together with activists from HIV support services groups and labour congress. The workshop was an avenue for migrants to share their experiences in battling negative societal perceptions. The workshop co-organised with Lanka+ and the Salvation Army in Sri Lanka also gave migrants information on assistance and protections provided by participating NGOs. Through this workshop MSC had also identified organisations adopting Greater Involvement of People Living With HIV (GIPA) principles.

Post Global AIDS Week of Action, they will roll out the rest of the programme nation wide in Sri Lanka. David Soysa, Executive Director of MSC shared with us the rationale for this campaign. Read about it here.

The International AIDS Memorial Day marked the start of the Global AIDS Week of Action. To celebrate the day, Tenaganita mobilised Nepali migrant workers in Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia on 15 May 2007. A "Wild Fire" game ignited the spirit of the programme, it demonstrated how fast HIV can spread and therefore the need to protect oneself from the disease. After "playing with fire" Tenaganita proceeded with instilling awareness about sexually transmitted disease including HIV. Read more about the programme here .


Migrants Take Centre Stage During AIDS Week

During the Global AIDS Week of Action from 20 to 26 May 2007, CARAM Asia urged governments to accelerate AIDS treatment delivery with particular highlights to uphold Asian migrant workers rights in national HIV plans. Collaborating with partners, CARAM Asia jointly signed and sent letters to governments.

Harnessing the media influence to pressure governments to scrutinise this issue, CARAM Asia sent its open letters to governments via the media. News wire like the Associated Press, local papers and radio programmes in Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Russia and country host for the next G8 Meeting, Germany had published or broadcasted CARAM Asia’s statements. Click here for the open letter.

Globally many organisations are calling for a scale up of AIDS treatment delivery. It is timely to ask for an increase of funding for HIV programmes in May, since the leaders of the richest countries in the world will meet at the G8 Summit from 6 to 8 June, 2007 in Germany. The G8 countries had spearheaded a universal access commitment in 2005. The Universal Access target on treatment is set at 9.8 million by 2010, which is defined as 80% coverage by UNAIDS. However with only three years to 2010, the G8 is on the brink of missing the target. In 2006, treatment access grew by 700,000.  At this rate of expansion the world will fall five million people short of the internationally declared Universal Access target of 9.8 million. Click here to read about what went on around the world during the Global AIDS Week of Action.


Legal Readdress For Trafficking Survivors

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Bill was passed in Malaysian Parliament on 10 May, 2007. The advent of a trafficking bill is a victory for Tenaganita as the leading advocator for a law to nail down criminals and protect trafficked survivors in Malaysia. For a decade, Tenaganita had engaged various tactical approaches of advocacy, lobbying state agencies and even going beyond Malaysia to facilitate regional collaboration in advancing their cause.

Finally, with this bill being passed, there will be a mechanism to bring justice to trafficked survivors. The Bill states that human trafficking will be an offence that carries a jail term of not more than 20 years and fine of up to RM500,000. An absence of this bill meant that survivors could not seek justice and are subjected to imprisonment for illegal entry or over staying, once found by authorities. With the bill in effect, survivors will be immune from criminal prosecution and will be given refuge with protection by social welfare officers.

"Clause 25 seeks to provide for immunity from criminal prosecution to a trafficked person in respect of his illegal entry, period of unlawful residence and possession of fraudulent travel or identity document,” the Bill stated. 

At least now, survivors will have three months to record statements with authorities and the statements will be used admissible as evidence to stand trial in court without the need for the victim’s presence in court. While the bill is welcomed, the government still needs to look at a comprehensive range of solutions to uphold human rights norms and principles in handling the issue. Read here on how Tenaganita had championed the case for a trafficking bill and their comment on this bill here .


DAWN's Work on Human Trafficking

Often, Filipino women go through vigorous training before getting work contracts as entertainers in Japan. Upon arrivals, their passports are held. Most of the time, they are sent to work in clubs or brothels as opposed to the work place stated in their contract. They end up sexually exploited, physically assaulted & traumatised. Being in such a state, they are extremely vulnerable to HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases. These are common patterns regarding trafficking of Filipino migrant women seeking job prospects in Japan.

For over ten years now, Development Action for Women Network (DAWN) has been helping Filipino migrant women who were victims of trafficking in person to recover from their trauma and become survivors and advocates. DAWN provides a holistic approach through its Social Services, Alternative Livelihood, Research, Networking, Education and Advocacy programmes. Carmelita G. Nuqui, Executive Director of DAWN presents to us a paper on how DAWN has relentlessly worked in the fight against trafficking in persons.Read the paper by clicking on here.

SARDI Radio Programme Making Waves Among Nepali Migrants

South Asian Research & Development Initiative (SARDI) in collaboration with other organisations has been implementing a HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programme for the Nepali community in Delhi. By harnessing the influence of radio, SARDI broadcasts HIV information to the Nepali migrant community. Among the various types of media, radio have been proven to been effective in reaching grass root communities. SARDI's radio programme had been successful in engaging Nepali migrant's attention to the issue of HIV. Since its inception a year ago, more migrants had come forward to do voluntary HIV testing at SARDI. 17 Nepali migrants were found HIV positive and had been provided with treatment and care. Read more about this initiative here

Making HIV Drugs Cheap

Since late last year, Thailand had issued compulsory licenses for HIV medications and breaking patents in the event. Bangkok first broke the patent on the ARV ‘Efavirenz', produced by the U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck Sharp and Dhome. That was followed by a compulsory license issued here for ‘Kaletra', another ARV produced by the U.S. pharma multinational Abbott Laboratories. In January, the patent for ‘Palvis', a blood-thinner made by Sanofi-Aventis, was broken.

But it was only Abbott that hit back at Thailand. Abbott withdrew seven medicines from the Thai market and threatened not to introduce new ones. The pharmaceutical lobbying group, USA for Innovation, attacked, calling on the US Trade Representative to brand Thailand an intellectual-property "violator". Read more here .

UN Learning Strategy on HIV/AIDS: Sixteen Case Studies 2007

In April 2003, the Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) approved a Learning Strategy to help UN system staff develop competence on HIV and AIDS. This includes ensuring that staff members fully understand the UN's HIV and AIDS workplace policies and how they are implemented.

To support UN country teams to implement the Learning Strategy, Learning Facilitators were selected at country level and trained in a series of regional workshops. The Learning Facilitators were then expected to ensure—along with the country teams—that the standards of the Learning Strategy were realized. This report is comprised of UN HIV/AIDS Learning Strategy case studies from sixteen countries: Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, India, Indonesia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, the Pan American Health Organization headquarters (United States), Pakistan, Paraguay, Vienna (Austria), Vietnam, and Yemen. It presents each country’s unique experience in implementing the strategy since its adoption in 2003. From the case studies, lessons have been drawn and twelve recommendations are made. Read here for details.


New ILO Global Report on Equality at Work 2007

Despite major advances in fighting discrimination at work, mounting inequalities in income and opportunities, significant and persistent forms of workplace discrimination are causing growing concern, according to a new report by the International Labour Office (ILO) published on 10 May 2007.

The ILO's Equality at work: Tackling the challenges provides a global picture of job-related discrimination, citing both progress and failures in the struggle to fight discrimination ranging from traditional forms such as sex, race or religion, to newer forms based on age, sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS status and disability. Read the report here.


UNODC's Toolkit to Combat Trafficking in Persons

A recent UNODC report called " Trafficking in Persons:  Global Patterns" identifies Thailand, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine among the countries that are the greatest sources of trafficked persons.  Thailand, Japan, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the U.S. are cited as the most common destinations.

Distinct from the concept of forced labour, the act of human trafficking involves additional elements, for example the act of recruitment (often by deceitful promises); transportation; and the receipt and exploitation of the victim.  Difficult conditions such as poverty, lack of opportunities, including unemployment, and displacement make people especially vulnerable.

Trafficking victims are held in bondage through physical and psychological force.  Even if they managed to escape, typically they have nowhere to go - they often lack identity papers and have little or no money.  Traffickers also threaten to harm the victims' families as an additional deterrent against trying to flee.  Many are ill:  HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are common among women and girls forced into prostitution. Click here to download the UNODC trafficking toolkit.