Art Exhibit by Sex Workers from ASEAN countries “Yet, still we dance!”

04 Apr 2013

‘Yet, still we dance’ was a unique art exhibit with works created by sex workers from eight ASEAN countries and Timor-Leste. More than 50 sex worker artists were involved in creating this exhibit using a range of mediums including sculpture, painting, fabric, and photography. It ran for 10 days at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.

The aim was to create a space in which sex workers could show their art, and through these pieces, another perspective on sex work and sex workers.

Sex work, HIV, stigma and discrimination are inter-related. Over the course of the 30-year HIV history, sex workers have been associated as the main ‘drivers’ of HIV. As they are often portrayed as the main vector through which HIV is transmitted, sex workers face increasing levels of stigma and discrimination.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) work with sex workers is part of a larger effort to reduce stigma and discrimination and to improve access to prevention and care of those with HIV and AIDS. It is also an integral part of our governance work to help protect and promote rights of marginalized people.

SW-ASEAN (Sex Workers in ASEAN) is a programme that the UNDP HIV team is supporting and is run by EMPOWER Foundation, a Thai-based organization that promotes the rights of sex workers.

Through the universal language of art, this exhibit offered sex workers a chance to show sex work through their own eyes. Despite the stigma and discrimination they face, ‘yet still they dance’.