Taking the Pledge

I just heard really exciting news from Melissa Hope Ditmore, who with the Network of Sex Work Projects was my co-producer on the video project Taking the Pledge that I shot, edited, and helped produce with the the Urban Justice Project.

On blip.tv, the short has been viewed 16,345 times! It’s been online for about a year, and over 900 DVDs have been distributed to outreach groups, NGO’s, aid organizations, and government officials. The short will be shown as part of the cultural program at the biannual International AIDS Conference in Mexico City in August.

Melissa estimated that over 20,000 people have seen it! Let’s hope that someone with some power will take notice and take action against the insane stipulations highlighted in the film.

Here’s Melissa, Meena Seshu, and Hazera Bagum speaking at the OSI forum on “Update on the “Anti-Prostitution Pledge” and Its Global Impacts” in New York last June. Click here to listen.

Both Hazera and Meena are interviewed in the film. Here’s a little more about my fabulous co-conspirators:

Hazera Bagum directs Durjoy Nari Shangho, a sex worker rights group and UNAIDS best-practice program that lost its funding when the international NGO that funded them signed the anti-prostitution pledge. This resulted in a reduction from 20 to 4 drop-in centers for street-based sex workers, which the group has run since 1998. Bagum shared how the pledge has impacted the sex worker rights movement in Bangladesh.

Meena Seshu is Founder & Secretary General of Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha (SANGRAM), an HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and support organization working with socially marginalized populations in Maharashtra State, India. Human Rights Watch honored her in 2002 with the Human Rights Award, its highest recognition. She is featured in the film Taking the Pledge and discussed the impact the pledge has had on her efforts to help sex workers in India.

Melissa Ditmore, PhD, author, and Coordinator of the Network of Sex Work Projects, spoke about organizing and advocacy efforts undertaken since the pledge requirement was passed by Congress in 2003. She showed Taking the Pledge, a 13-minute film about how the anti-prostitution pledge has affected sex workers around the world. The film features interviews with sex workers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Mali, Thailand, and other countries. 

If you want to learn more about how the anti-prostitution pledge hinders HIV prevention, click here.

To watch the film, click here.

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