Spotlight 1: SWING, Thailand

Spotlight 1: SWING, Thailand

HIV Australia | Vol. 11 No. 4 | November 2013

The Service Workers In Group Foundation (SWING) was established in 2004 to promote and protect the health, human rights and dignity of sex workers.

From its initial focus on the issues that affect male and transgender sex workers, SWING has expanded its coverage over the past 10 years to include programmes and projects for sex workers of all genders and sexual orientations.

SWING currently operates drop-in centres in Bangkok, Pattaya and Koh Samui, all of which provide a range of educational and health-related services to sex workers.

SWING’s core services include: a comprehensive outreach programme with health promotion workshops and activities on HIV/AIDS and sexual health delivered within sex industry workplaces, as well as a Non-Formal Education Programme, which enables sex workers to attain a high school certification.

Each police cadet is matched with a SWING staff member who is their “buddy” for the duration of the three week training.

SWING staff members are responsible for mentoring their police cadet buddy, familiarising cadets with SWING’s operations and educating cadets about the issues affecting sex workers.

The photograph above depicts police cadets and their SWING staff buddies upon the cadets’ successful graduation of the Police Cadet Community Involvement Program.

SWING recognises that sex workers routinely face stigma, discrimination and human rights violations, such as harassment and violence, and have found it difficult to report such incidents to the police.

In order to improve relations between police and male and transgender sex workers, SWING piloted an innovative and acclaimed project that involved collaborative work with the Thai Police Force to deliver a comprehensive sensitivity training programme for police cadets.

Since its launch in 2005, the internship programme has successfully challenged many of the attitudes of police cadets, and has resulted in an increased recognition and understanding of the issues that affect sex workers.