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Proper condom use protects everyone

As a sex worker community organisation, Project X regularly interacts with brothel-based and street-based sex workers in Singapore ("More teenage boys paying for sex: Study"; April 10).

We find that one of the biggest concerns sex workers have is clients demanding unsafe sexual practices.

Clients do so by exploiting a sex worker's financial vulnerabilities by offering more money, or by using violence or the threat of violence.

In fact, many sex workers note that they often have to spend time educating their customers about sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

Many unlicensed sex workers in Singapore fear carrying condoms because there is the threat of being arrested.

It is a common police practice to stop people in red-light districts and search their bags. If condoms and/or lubricants are found, they can be charged with soliciting (for Singaporeans) or be deported from the country (in the case of foreigners).

As a result, many unlicensed sex workers - Singaporeans and foreigners alike - refuse to take our condoms when we distribute them in our outreach programmes.

This is also a public health concern.

Rather than making scapegoats of sex workers, it is important for all of us to remember that there are two sides to the story, and that both are equally important in the fight to ensure the health and safety of everyone. Vanessa Ho Xi Huei (Ms)

Project Director

Project X

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 24, 2016, with the headline 'Proper condom use protects everyone'. Subscribe