Former U.S. AID director Randall Tobias, who resigned yesterday upon admitting that he frequented a Washington escort service, oversaw a controversial policy advocated by the religious right that required any US-based group receiving anti-AIDS funds to take an anti-prostitution â€œloyalty oath.â€
Aid groups bitterly opposed the policy, charging that it â€œwas so broad â€” and applied even to their private funds â€” that it would obstruct their outreach to sex workers who are at high risk of transmitting the AIDS virus.â€ But President Bush wouldnâ€™t budge. He signed a 2003 National Security Presidential Directive saying prostitution â€œand related activitiesâ€ were â€œinherently harmful and dehumanizing.â€
Several groups and countries had their funding cut due to the policy. Brazil lost $40 million for â€œone of its most successful anti-AIDS strategies, persuading sex workers to use condoms or other measures to stop spreading the disease.â€
The Bush Administration refuses to give funds to any organization that teaches negotiating tactics or provides condoms to sex workers, even if U.S. funds are not used for those purposes.
During an â€œAsk the White Houseâ€ online chat in 2004, Tobias defended the policy, saying the U.S. was â€œpartnering with communitiesâ€ to begin â€œfighting sex trafficking and prostitution, while still serving victims of these activities.â€ Tobias added that he was overseeing several â€œhighly successfulâ€ relationship programs â€œaimed at men and boys to help them develop healthy relationships with women.â€
A truly inspired idea, having someone who pays for â€œgals come over to the condo to give me a massageâ€ run programs on developing â€œhealthy relationships with women.â€