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AIDS2010 Interview with Liz C - SWOP USA

Liz C SWOP USA AIDS2010While most of my chats were with ICRSE Network members I also had a chance to speak with Liz C - new chair of SWOP USA Board of directors. Liz was in Vienna with several colleagues from the USA who together supported the SWOP USA NGO booth, acted-up and networked like crazy.

Although this is a bit late of a post I was curious to here more about the Desiree Alliance conference "Working Sex: Power, Practice, and Politics" which is in its final days in sunny Las Vegas, Nevada, July 25th to 30th, 2010. To have a look at the exciting and packed program please see the Desiree Alliance conference pages.

Why did you want to be at this conference?

I think it is important for us to engage more on a global level especially around the Pepfar prostitution pledge issues that is affecting sex workers around the world - we need to reach out to sex workers globally to see how we can support sex workers to resist the impact of Pepfar.

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How has your experience at AIDS2010 been so far?
The conference has really opened my eyes to the experiences of others ourside of the USA, especially around Pepfar. I hope that this will be made a priority issue for Washington 2012. It is so important to meet face-to-face instead of learning things through reading reports.

I love how sex workers are so creative, adaptable and genius.

One criticism that I have is around translation the lack of translation is preventing people from communicating effectively here at the conference. For the Desiree Alliance conference we will have translation in four languages so if we can do it there is no reason why such a large organisation as AIDS conference organisers cannot do more.

Can you tell us something about the Desiree Alliance conference that you will be going to after Vienna?

This conference is organised entirely by volunteers and we expect around 300 people to attend. That is a large conference for 5 days! As far as I know people are coming from Europe, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia and more. The conference has different tracks and the various tracks mean that there is something for everyone, researchers, sex workers, activists, students and artists.

I am sure you will hear more about the conference once it has started. Check out the Desiree Alliance website or Bound Not Gagged blog.

What else is SWOP USA up to?
We are currently working to develop new SWOP chapters. It is so important to give one-on-one support for this - to go visit new chapters, provide information and mentor in some way. Sometimes a new chapter might have only a couple of people so support is vital. I think it is important to remember what it is like to be a new activist.

The Desiree Alliance is pretty big from what I can see on the members list on the website. Any future plans for either Desiree Alliance or SWOP USA?

There are always more organisations that we could reach out to that are not yet part of the Desiree Alliance. I also think it will be important for us to have more focus on social justice issues, provide trainings around leadership roles and revisit the question of what diversity and inclusivity mean. We can always make more links with other activists.

Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us at the ICRSE Liz. I hope that the "Working Sex: Power, Practice, and Politics" Conference is a huge success. Sex workers around the world are excited to hear more about this conference experience and outcomes.


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