Activists always donate their time and expertise not expecting anything in return. Frankly receiving any form of appreciation outside our own community is quite rare. In many countries we actually suffer quite severe consequences as a result of our activism, Sweden being a prime example. Fighting for basic stuff, like the access to adequate health care, often leave us personas non grata. Apart from personal attacks and, what can only be describes as bullying, during networking and formal meetings, activism also results in us having even less opportunities for any other career option deemed as troublemakers with little to contribute and with an underlying understanding of us being way to damaged anyway. But obviously they are wrong. Society needs more community members involved in all areas that affect our lives, sexual health being one of them.
Someone who know this all too well is our colleague Carina E, who despite personal challenges due to health issues and living with ADHD has been a committed activist for many years. She has shared her personal experience of belonging to several communities at conferences, in the media and in meetings. As a former sex worker and drug user belonging to the LGTBQI-community she has been outspoken about the challenges of living with multiple stigmas, especially regarding the lack of adequately trained professionals in health care with a focus on sexuality, mental health and harm reduction.
Now we want to do something for her that will in the end benefit all her communities. She has her mind set on applying for a one semester course on Andrology and Clinical Sexuality, organized by RFSU (The National Federation for Sexual Education) which starts in January. There are some challenges involved, one being that it has to be paid by your employer or other legal body, she is currently on social welfare and unemployed. However, the biggest challenge is the fee of 17.000 SEK (1645 Euros, 1876 USD) that in her current situation must seem like an impossible task. She is spending all her time looking for grants with various national donors, but her chances of managing the full amount are slim to none. The application deadline for the course is 1 December.
As she has plenty of academic experience the course would mean she would have a diploma in sexology within reach, as well as the possibility of putting all her experience to good use working with communities who in Sweden often are described as having no sexuality of their own.
We want to make sure Carina knows her hard work is appreciated. Any funds we manage to raise will be managed by one of our allied organisations (yet to be decided which one) who will then back Carina as the legal body applying on her behalf. It also happens to be her birthday on 4 November and we know this would mean the world to her. Would she not be accepted to this course the funding will be set aside for next suitable opportunity. See below for some examples of what she has accomplished so far.
In Sweden, it is highly unlikely anyone would invest in her future and she is acutely aware of that, so she is trying to solve it on her own. She shouldn’t have to.
Pye Jakobsson & Ryan Cole
Note: Carina’s family name is withheld in this text to avoid it coming up in Google searches, please respect this when reposting or linking (which we still would appreciate if you do).
Co-author - Report on sex work in Sweden, HIV-Sweden/Rose Alliance: En annan horisont http://www.hiv-sverige.se/wp-content/uploads/En-annan-horisont-webb.pdf
Participant - Professional Profile of the Outreach Worker in Harm Reduction – PROWFILE http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_231441_EN_INT16_EBook_Prowfile_OWHR.pdf
Speaker – International Harm Reduction Conference, 2013, Vilnius.https://www.hri.global/contents/1232
Speaker – People’s parliament meeting, House of Commons. Stop the criminalisation of sex work -- safety first! 26 March 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy6s2bj-n4I
Speaker - 2nd European Harm Reduction Conference, Basel, 2014 http://www.harmreduction.ch/wp-content/uploads/hri2014_W12_b_Presentation_Edlund_20140509.pdf
Speaker - Vem vågar älska en sexarbetare? Seminarium om HBTQ personer och sexarbete. (Who dares to love a sex worker? Seminar on LGBT persons and sex work), Regnbågsveckan, 2014.
Interview - ABC news, Australia, 2015 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-13/sweden-laws-protect-prostitutes-while-dismantling-their-trade/6315640
Speaker – Conference Women & HIV, Stockholm, 2015, LAFA – p.37. https://www.lafa.nu/Documents/Rapporter/Korr%20Lafa%20rapport%20Kvinnor%20och%20HIV_V4.pdf
Speaker - ICW special session at AIDS 2016: Violations in Health Care Settings: Intersectional Discrimination. http://www.icwglobal.org/news-and-media/global-news/an-icw-special-session-at-aids-2016
Speaker - HARM REDUCTION NETWORKING ZONE – AIDS 2016. Discussion Group: Speaking Out: Women who use Drugs in Advocacy http://www.dut.ac.za/events/harm-reduction-networking-zone-at-the-global-village-during-the-aids-conference/