HIV prevention programs globally have recognized the importance of ensuring sex workers have access to condoms and increasing their ability to use them. Yet before sex workers can use condoms, they need to be able to carry and keep them. In countries around the world—including the United States—police are actively engaged in stopping and searching sex workers and confiscating or destroying condoms found in their possession. In other cases, police use possession of condoms as grounds to arrest or detain people on charges of sex work. In some jurisdictions courts allow condoms to be used as evidence to convict people on prostitution-related charges.
At a panel event on July 17, the Open Society Foundations will release a report that documents the police practice of using condoms as evidence of prostitution and its impact on sex workers’ lives, including their vulnerability to HIV. Activists from New York, South Africa, and Zimbabwe who were involved in the research will discuss the report’s findings and the implications of these policing practices on sex workers and their communities.
- Sienna Baskin, Director, Sex Workers Project, Urban Justice Center
- Kholi Buthelezi, Sisonke National Coordinator / African Sex Worker Alliance Country Coordinator, South Africa
- Sian Maseko, Director, Sexual Rights Centre, Zimbabwe
- Moderator: Acacia Shields, author of Criminalizing Condoms: How Policing Practices Put Sex Workers and HIV Services at Risk in Kenya, Namibia, Russia, South Africa, the United States, and Zimbabwe