We believe that the end of AIDS is possible if there is more focus on key populations. Our project in Kyrgyzstan addresses barriers faced by the sex workers community related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Driven by community champions, we work to realize a strong sex worker movement that enjoys their full rights; decrease violence and discrimination by law enforcement and in society; access to IDs and children of sex workers are able to go to school and kindergarten; and increased access to comprehensive health services.
Low access to healthcare and an unstable political context
The Kyrgyz Republic is a country with low HIV prevalence in the general population. However, between 2006 and 2015, the number of officially registered cases of HIV infections in the country rose 5.7 times to a total number of 6,402 people living with HIV. Key populations carry a heavy burden of the epidemic, for example the HIV prevalence among sex workers is 2.2%. One of the reasons that there has been some increase is the limited access to prevention programmes and healthcare for key populations.
For the last four years, the overall political situation in Kyrgyzstan has been fragile and dynamic at the same time. The year 2014 was marked by a troubling trend in the country, as the government
failed to promote and consolidate political and civil rights that many had hoped would follow the 2010 constitutional reforms and change of government. The rise of religious and radical nationalistic movements has led to sporadic cases of discrimination and violence against key populations. The spring of 2016 brought long-awaited positive changes, when the country’s parliament finally declined a draft law on “foreign agents” due to strong political pressure.
Sex workers claim a right-based HIV and SRHR response
Bridging the Gaps works with a Theory of Change approach. A Theory of Change is a description of a list of events that is expected to lead to a particular desired outcome. It is a visualization of how change is believed to happen. In 2016, representatives of the sex workers community developed a specified Theory of Change We that consists of short-,medium, and long term outcomes. The Theory of Change describes how we plan to realize a strong sex worker movement that enjoys their full rights; decrease violence and discrimination by law enforcement and in society; access to IDs and children of sex workers are able to go to school and kindergarten; and increased access to comprehensive health services.
Through innovation and by building on previous work, we will strengthen civil society organisations’ ability to:
1. We facilitate community development
- Rolling-out stigma index research;
- Planning monthly thematic meetings tailored to the needs of sex workers;
- Planning community mobilisation events;
- Providing capacity building to sex worker organisations and staff;
- Exploratoring joint efforts regarding targeting key population issues.
2. We advocate for the continuously strengthening of services and upholding human rights
- Developing a follow up report to CEDAW Committee;
- Increasing awareness and skills building to stand up for sex workers’ human rights through thematic meetings and quarterly mobilisation events;
- Participating in development and promoting anti-discrimination legislation (ADL) jointly with other communities and allies.
3. Deliver inclusive, rights-based and gender sensitive services
- Providing quality STI testing and service to sex workers in friendly clinics and through mobile outreach;
- Conducting research on violence and HIV to be used for advocacy and improving paralegal services.
4. Foster global and in-country processes and partnerships that reinforce results
- Identifying NGOs promoting the cancellation of the requirement of a residence registration (propiska) and build a strategic advocacy alliance with these NGOOur partners.
Our project builds on the strong advocacy work of our partner Tais Plus to put sex workers’ health issues on the political agenda and get them included in national plans. Their work is internationally supported by Aidsfonds and GNP+.