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MACEDONIA- HOPS

by Marija

This year HOPS marked the International day to End Violence against Sex Workers in several regions in Macedonia – Skopje, the capital, but also Gostivar, Strumica and Ohrid where mixed teams of sex workers and other professionals work together on service provision for HOPS. Most of the activities were community-oriented, in order to get sex workers familiar with the importance of this day in regions that marked it for the first time, to provoke discussion about violence and the situation in their local environments, but also to engage sex workers in joint creative and fun activities that they can enjoy.

In Strumica, sex workers led the events. They began by making small wooden red umbrellas which they used to decorate the drop in center, to embellish cocktail drinks and to distribute to friends and allies. At the same time, they organized group discussions inspired by the community newsletter “From Us To Us” (produced by STAR-STAR) and the Sex Workers’ Manifesto (produced by ICRSE) and prepared lots of food including a beautiful and tasty cake that said “Protect Yourself, It’s Your Right”. A “lucky lottery” was organized and the activities ended with a lot of singing, dancing and enjoying each other’s company.

In Ohrid, local media were contacted with the result that 3 television shows and a few internet news sources raised the issue of violence against sex workers in their local community and in Macedonia. The same day, HOPS’ film on sex workers and police “You Must Know About Me” was screened in the drop in center. HOPS workers also distributed small wooden red umbrellas on outreach in order to inform as much sex workers possible about local and global trends of solidarity and taking action in protection from violence.

In Gostivar, small group of sex workers and NGO members gathered for a film screening and a discussion, after which they went out and had a red umbrella walk around the city.

In Skopje, the drop in center was the site of a big community party. On several occasions before 17th of December, in collaboration with STAR-STAR, HOPS organized a few awareness- raising workshops and discussions, so on the day itself everyone wanted to just get together and have fun. A few sex workers led workshops on designing and making dresses, other sex workers volunteered to prepare food, HOPS’ lawyer made a red umbrella cake, others took care of music for the party and other details. So, on the day of the party, everyone just got dressed up and enjoyed all of their joint work.

After the party, everyone joined the red umbrella march in the street sex work area organized by STAR-STAR.

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