A group of people listening to a seminar.
FAITH, led by Reena Lama, educates local government officials on the rights of sex workers. Photo: FAITH.

Interview with Reena Lama: Sex workers’ rights in Nepal

Sa 25.5.2024 18.25-18.50
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Is produced by

KIOS foundation

Sex workers in Nepal face a lot of violence, but no one protects them. Often, even their own families turn against them. Nepalese human rights activist Reena Lama breaks taboos and prejudices. From the early 2000s, she has worked with marginalised people such as the HIV positive, sex workers and drug users.

Founded by Lama, Friends Affected and Infected Together in Hand (FAITH) courageously challenges prevailing perceptions in a patriarchal society. How to get policymakers to advocate for the rights of the marginalised groups? How has working on taboo subjects affected Lama’s own treatment and status in socety? How do the discriminated group see themselves and their own rights?

Lama will be interviewed by gender equality expert and human rights activist Elina Nikulainen.

The programme will be in English. The programme will be available on-site at the Speaker’s stage and through live stream on the Festival website.

We have waited for an extended period for change, sought support from those in positions of influence, yet no changes have occurred; instead, the situation has degraded with harmful laws. Now, more than ever, activists from the sex work community are resilient, demanding their safety and committed to advocating for a society built on empathy, understanding, and inclusivity.

Reena Lama

Reena Lama

Reena Lama is the executive director of FAITH organization, an advocate for women’s rights, and a member of the marginalized Tamang community, which is the second largest ethnic group in Nepal. Lama’s journey from a volunteer to the forefront of political activism demonstrates a commitment to dismantling stereotypes, addressing systemic barriers, and above all, working towards ensuring that the most marginalized voices are heard.

Elina Nikulainen

Elina Nikulainen has had a long career working on gender equality and human rights issues in Finland and internationally, specializing in violence against women. She worked in various UN organizations in Asia for six years. In Finland, she has worked as a gender equality advisor for Plan Finland Foundation and has led the Women’s Line and UN Women Finland. Currently, she works as an entrepreneur.