Human Rights Defenders Program 2017!

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2017 saw the launch of our Human Rights Defender Program (HRDP), aimed at empowering sex workers through equipping them with relevant skills to aid others in their community. The HRDP is divided into numerous modules, each module tackles a key issue facing the community and equips them with a specific skill. Here’s a quick summary of the modules the participants took part in:

DIGITAL STORYTELLING

The program kickstarted with a module about Digital Storytelling, our highest rated programme to date. Participants were prompted to write about their lives, allowing the them to  document their stories through creative means. The methodology of Digital Storytelling allows participants to speak their own truths and publish their stories the way they want them to be, thereby challenging mainstream portrayals and combatting harmful and discriminatory stereotypes. Participants wrote about topics ranging from the reasons they chose to enter sex work, to the relationship with their best friends, or their family. In addition to writing, participants learnt to make videos that included background music and visuals to enhance the effects of the storytelling.  They also made an audio recording of themselves narrating the story they had written, allowing viewers an immersive experience. This course was held in conjunction with The Stiletto Alliance, at CARE, NUS, and conducted by Professor Jeff Peterson.

RACE, RELIGION, AND GENDER INEQUALITY

Over two sessions, participants had an opportunity to critically examine gender and racial stereotypes, and learn the language needed to describe their personal experiences of discrimination.

COUNSELLING AND SUICIDE PREVENTION

Mental health issues are often overlooked even as many in the community are battling with it. Over five sessions, participants learnt about the common mental health issues, the signs, strategies to cope, as well as resources available in Singapore to seek help. Participants then went on to undertake a basic counselling course at the Social Service Institute before a two-day session with Oogachaga on Suicide Intervention.

HIV AWARENESS

Through the module participants were informed about the transmission of HIV, and how HIV develops into AIDS. The module highlighted the medication available for HIV prevention, treatment, and where they can be accessed. Participants were also made aware of pre and post exposure prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP) and how and when to use them.

LAW & HUMAN RIGHTS

A key ingredient for empowerment is knowledge of one’s rights. Over two sessions led by pro bono lawyers and NUS law students, participants were enlightened about the various laws in Singapore and their rights in relation to those laws. Areas covered sex work, rape and sexual assault, physical assault, drugs, and theft. These two sessions were complemented with a session on international human rights standards, which provided participants a platform to discuss about the discrimination and injustices they faced. Finally, participants had an opportunity to speak to local human rights activists and had a sharing session on the principles and strategies for advocacy.

This post is an excerpt from our 2017 Annual Report.

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Vanessa Ho

Executive Director | [email protected]

Executive Director
[email protected]

Vanessa has been full-time with Project X since 2011, and as a result, has had many opportunities to meet and connect with sex workers in Singapore and around the world. Under her leadership, the organisation has grown from a small group of volunteers to one where there are three paid staff and a team of over 60 volunteers. Correspondingly, she has increased the annual operating budget of the organization five times, and is now recognized as the leading organization that empowers and assists women in the sex industry.

Vanessa has written and spoken extensively about sex work, human trafficking, rape culture, and LGBTQ rights in Singapore. She believes that if people can speak about sex, gender and sexuality in open and in non-judgmental ways, society will become a safer place for everyone.

Vanessa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Warwick, and a Masters Degree in Gender, Society and Representation from University College London.