U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down 'Anti-Prostitution Pledge'

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down 'Anti-Prostitution Pledge'

After June, the Supreme Court handed down a flurry of important and controversial rulings. Media coverage focused on the Court's assessments for this Voting Rights Act and the Defense of Marriage Act (both of which it found to be, at least in part, unconstitutional), and discussion of the verdict against the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath (APLO) fell via the wayside. However, in siding with the plaintiff in Alliance for Open Society International (OSI) vs. National Agency for International Development (USAID) to rule that the APLO was unconstitutional, the Supreme Court heralded a major, if partial, victory for sex workers rights and public health policy. Sex and Porn Searches and Stats From Around the World at hand was whether the federal government was violating non-governmental organizations' (NGOs) First Amendment rights by requiring them try a stand against sex work in order to qualify for federal help with fighting HIV/ AIDS. The APLO was part of any policy known as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), had been enacted in 2003 under George Bush. USAID oversees the implementation of PEPFAR, and though both the Bush and Obama Administrations have tried to deal with the free-speech issues by getting NGOs to set up affiliates that are not bound by the pledge, several NGOs did not feel it was a satisfactory compromise. Led by OSI, the organizations brought suit, and two lower courts ruled in their favor in 2006 and 2011. In the decade since its implementation, PEPFAR has resulted in the distribution of some $46 billion dollars, all to programs that have had to adopt official policies explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking, and which disallow any vocal support for the legalization or practice of prostitution. This requirement was vague enough to potentially apply to any sort of community organizing amongst sex workers, which discouraged many NGOs from working together. Yet research has proven time and again that sex workers' involvement in anti-HIV efforts is key in controlling the spread of the disease. At the MSNBC blog, reporter Geoffrey Cowley provides a powerful example of how engaging sex workers might help reduce the incidence of HIV in an territory. Nobody had ever gone to these [sex workers] and said, You are human!' So I walked in the mud and so i talked with them inside of the alleys where they work, he quotes Kenyan nurse Elizabeth Ngugi as thinking. Cowley writes that Ngugi helped organize the sex workers in the slums of Nairobi to form a united front in demanding condom use from clients. When they stood together for safer sex, condom use rose from 4% to more than 90%-- an increase which includes since prevented 6,000 to 10,000 new HIV infections each year in [the district.] Reviewing the impact of the pledge on organizations like Ms. Ngogi's, journalist Melissa Gira Grant recounts the findings of the Journal of the International AIDS Society. Regardless of whether organizations chose in order to an anti-prostitution pledge, she writes in the Nation, it has resulted in HIV and AIDS projects losing funding, shutting down, or facing investigation. In ruling against USAID's policy on June 20th, the Supreme Court allowed American-based NGOs to go back to doing vital " cure " HIV. Unfortunately, and since the First Amendment only applies to US citizens, USAID may continue to require foreign organizations to take the APLO. U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down 'Anti-Prostitution Pledge' notes the limitations of suing because of free speech when she writes that, The case in the Supreme court was in ugh about whether not really APLO is inherently unjust and dangerous to sex workers. She writes of stress abroad, The pledge requirement caused a condom shortage among sex workers in Mali, the withholding of safer sex information from male sex worekrs in Cambodia, and the closure of community drop-in centers in Blangadesh where sex workers had previously attained condoms, health information, respite and solidarity.' (Links for these claims can be at the source.) Ultimately, the SCOTUS ruling was a vital first step of what should be an international effort to include sex workers in public health policy, it might was only decrease the cards step.