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On Saturday Kolkata will host a conference on freedom of sex workers. 550 sex workers representatives from about 44 countries will participate in the event. The two-day event, to be held on July 21 and 22, will run parallel to the XIX International AIDS Conference being organized in Washington DC from Sunday. The sex workers cannot be at Washington DC due to restriction on movement of the community by the US government.

 “We have been working in the field of HIV/AIDS for the past 20 years. It is unfortunate that the community that is most vulnerable to infection has not been included to as a part of the conference, Therefore, we had to take up this parallel conference,” said Bharati Dey, secretary, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC).

 The first-ever Global Hub of the International AIDS Conference is being hosted and co-hosted by DMSC, Global Network of Sex Workers (NWSP) and All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW) respectively. The meet in Kolkata will have direct communication through satellite link with the Washington DC conference. Adding glamour to the meet will be the likes of Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a well known activist who will host the conference.

 “This conference has been held for over a decade25 years. But people living with HIV and the most at-risk communities have been prohibited for the first time by the US government, due to their ignorant policy,” said Dr Samrajit Jana, DMSC chief advisor.

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