Friday, July 08, 2005

Government to Put Additional Conditions on AIDS Grants

The U.S. government has declared that any groups which are fighting AIDS overseas must do two things to be entitled to continued government funding: Create a statement that declares it is opposed to prostitution and sex trafficking, and sign a government form stating this.

These restrictions were already in place for foreign organizations that receive our funding, but the Justice Department wished to carefully review them to make sure that it wouldn't be considered a stifling of freedom of speech of U.S. citizens.

Although this seems to be common sense (and most groups have no problems with this) there are a couple groups that are balking (perhaps because they dislike the current administration so greatly that they would complain about anything).

In a time where any country in the civilized world has come to the conclusion that women and children aren't mere objects that can be exploited, I am amazed to find that any organization would object to this.

Terri Bartlett, vice president for public policy at Population Action International (a health advocacy group for women's issues) has said that she disagrees with this policy. She has stated that she fears it may drive away some prostitutes who need the help.

Let's get real here. I doubt any prostitute asks to read their organizational statements before she asks for help. And everyone knows that there are many prostitutes which are forced into the life. But we also need to honestly acknowledge that there are many prostitutes which take up prostitution because it's the easy thing to do.

And, let's also address this honestly from both sides. This new statement is mere smoke and mirrors. Simply because an organization states that they're officially opposed to prostitution and sex trafficking doesn't mean that they will say or do anything about it (look at Thailand's government, for instance).

The AP reports:

"Michael Wiest, vice president of Catholic Relief Services, a recipient of USAID funds, said it would take a lot of time and money to make sure his organization wasn't working with any foreign partner groups that violated the pledge."

Michael, we all know it won't take much time (and virtually no money) to type up a simple statement and sign a form. And if you don't know the policies of the partners which you've been working with, then you haven't been doing your due diligence to begin with. Wouldn't the Catholic Church want to know if they were working with groups that countered their beliefs? Of course it would!

This policy is better than no policy. Hopefully it will send a message, no matter how small, that exploiting women and children is wrong (are you listening, Thailand?)

P.S. I continue to hold off discussing the bombings in London until we have further information. The good news so far is that the death count is vastly lower than initially thought. Some think that this points to either a greatly weakened Al Qaida or another group altogether.


snicksnack said...

I agree with you that this is a simple issue and no one should disagree with it. Where do you GET this stuff? I didn't read it about it ANYwhere else. BTW, I'm watching this whole thing w/ interest over in London. I saw your post in Iguana's blog and I agree with it.

Tabasamu said...

Pretty funny that the Catholic group is actually coming out in FAVOR of prostitution by saying they don't want to say they AREN'T in favor of it!

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I think a lot of people have a problem with this based on principle.

How can you denounce people you're set up to help?

Saur♥Kraut said...


A good point, except that they're not condemning the people, but the practice. In other words, prostitutes need help and they need to be taught about AIDS and how to avoid it. However, the best way to avoid it is to not be a prostitute.

bananarama said...

well, I'm not a hooker and I don't think I've ever met one. But if I WERE a hooker, I might feel weird if they told me they were opposed to prostitution. But it doesn't SOUND like they tell hookers that they don't approve of them. They are just telling the goverments that kind of look the other way, that sexual crimes involving adults and kids are not acceptable. Right?

SmileDragon said...

If I may, this is the way I am interpreting it.... If your child goes out and beats up another kid, that is not ok, is it? No. So, when the principle calls you and tells you what happend, of course you will tell her/him that that is not acceptable behavior, and you don't condne it. When your child comes home you will talk to them about it and tell them that they are not bad, but what they did was bad. Am I on the right track here?

I honestly see nothin wrong with the request to sign the form.

SaurĂ¢™¥Kraut said...


Exactly! Thanks, again, for an analogy that makes is a little easier to understand.


See what Smilesalot wrote. That might help. ;o)

SmileDragon said...

I usually try to make the analogys for myself, so I can understand situations more. If I put myself into a similar situation I can see where both parties are coming from. If my self-help can help someone else, I am always up for it. :)

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Trouble is a kid has choice to punch someone in the face, many women have no choice.

To engage hard to help adults you need to be on their side rather than efforts to demonise them.

In an ideal world we'd love it if women didn't turn to the sex industry to make money but until we get that world show them respect and compassion those that make legislation!

Saur♥Kraut said...


A good point, certainly. And there are some women overseas that do have to turn to the sex industry to survive, I don't deny that. But it isn't those women that this statement would target. It is targeting the countries that allow it.

If the countries that allow young children to be taken into sexual slavery were cracked down on more, those children would have a better chance of survival into adulthood. I think there are almost always alternatives to the sex industry. Surely you don't suggest that children should become prostitutes to survive. Mind you, some do. But it is because it is tolerated.

I'm not a Pollyanna, don't misunderstand me. But I do believe a lot of governments turn a blind eye to the suffering of many because prostitution is big business, and big business is often very happy to pay kickbacks to governments that will allow it.