The following is an excerpt from a small group discussion on Sexual Health at the: MIGRANT AGRICULTURAL WORKER’S HUMAN RIGHTS AND HEALTH CONFERENCE Organized by The Industrial Accident Victim’s group of Ontario (IAVGO), Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS) and Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW). Other Funding and Project Partners include the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
(MAY 17 – 18, 2012, RAMADA PLAZA HOTEL)
MAY 17, 2012 AM ROUNDATABLES – SEXUAL HEALTH Participants: Eight service providers and volunteers who work with migrant farm workers in Ontario Main Discussion Points: KEY POINT 1: Barriers and Problems on Sexual Health of Migrant Farm Workers and Health care Provider.
Sexual Health is not commonly addressed as a primary issue in healthcare. Very sensitive issue to discuss with migrant farm workers. Lack of Access to Sexual Health care because of the following concerns/reasons: 1. Transportation – most clinics are far from where the workers are. Ex. Location of Hassle Free Clinics for HIV/AIDS and STI testing. 2. Mobility – since most workers are temporary, they might opt to not take any health care until they go back to their home country. 3. No Education on sexual health provided / Lack of information. “Where and how to get it?” 4. Language Barrier 5. Fear. Disclosing health conditions might result to termination and repatriation. 6. Intimacy issues. Ex. Married men having affairs with co-workers, would not be open on discussing sexual activities and STI’s.
Cultural Barriers. 1. Workers Value setting. Traditional families are often reluctant to teach family members about sexual health. To some, sexual health issues are taboo still.
2. Religion. Catholic strong stance against the use of artificial family planning like condoms. 3. Stigma on HIV AIDS and Homophobia.
SEXUAL BEHAVIORS. Unprotected sex with sex workers, sexual favors within the workers themselves and having multiple partners.
Farmer’s not cooperative in providing sexual health education among their workers.
KEY POINT 2: Success on Sexual Health among Migrant Farm Workers.
CONDOMS. A successful promotional tool in sexual health in HIV/AIDS and STI prevention. Including unwanted pregnancies/family planning. Question was raised: “It is free but is it easily accessible?” – getting the message out. PEER EDUCATOR. Having someone that you can relate to, helps in building confidence and trust. VOLUNTEERISM. Importance of volunteering in providing information and education. LITERACY PROGRAMS. Pointed by a service provider, that some famers allowed their workers access to literacy programs. CULTURAL ACTIVITY. Using cultural events or religious activities in bringing workers together and providing a sense of belonging with one another. Using this activity as a chance to educate workers. ANONYMITY. Reminding the workers that all the information they provide will remain anonymous. NETWORKS. Working together. Building networks of services and resources. Coordination with all non-profit organization dealing with migrant farm workers.
KEY PONT 3: How do we build on this Success?
Presenting the organization to the community as a NON-THREAT. Using the Church and/or Religion as a channel or avenue on reaching to the community. Mapping out worker’s experiences to keep track on their status and activities. Being CREATIVE and INNOVATIVE on presenting or communicating sexual health among farm workers. Ex. 1. Use of internet or newsletter. 2. Condom crew to give away condoms on bus stations. Focus on SEXUAL HEALTH concerns.
KEY POINT 4: Milestone. Aspirations on where we want to be in 5 -10yrs.
For migrant farm workers to be more open on issues regarding sexual behaviors. Having the sex that they want and being able to get it and having the power to protect themselves through informed decisions. More customized services for workers. Ex. 1. Having female health worker deal with female patients so they can be comfortable. 2. Providing language translations on sexual health information. Complete access on fundamental / basic human rights on sex (same sex or heterosexual). Support the Status Upon Arrival.
Issues that need to be explored:
Rape cases or sexual harassment between farmers and workers and among workers. Using HEALTH campaigns in getting through farmers and eventually discuss sexual health care and rights with workers. The difference between community based and rights based strategies on issues regarding sexual health.