Epidemic of Abuse

Police Harassment of HIV/AIDS Outreach Workers in India

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Women in prostitution in India are treated with disdain and commonly subjected to violations of their fundamental rights by the police, both at the time of their arrest and while in detention. Peer educators providing HIV/AIDS outreach to these women frequently suffer many of the same abuses. Police have beaten peer educators, claimed without basis that HIV/AIDS outreach work promotes prostitution, and brought trumped-up criminal charges against HIV/AIDS workers. Police also extort money and sex from these workers. The very possession of condoms—a key tool in the work of HIV/AIDS peer educators—often is enough to trigger police harassment, so deterring outreach that could help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and save thousands of lives.

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