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MY RIGHT - MY CHOICE...

Translated from INTOXI, Slovak magazine for sex workers and drug users
Not long time ago I received an invitation from Eva from Odyseus, to attend a meeting of sex workers, which was to be held in Vienna. It was a pre-meeting of huge one-week long AIDS conference, about which you read in the previous issue of Intoxi. There was also an invitation for all of us, sex workers to attend the meeting together with our outreach workers. The greater was my disappointment, when in the morning, at the train station, I in vain waited for some of my colleagues, which, together with me and Katarina, the director of Odyseus, were supposed to represent Slovakia.

So I will try to highlight that day for you all. This meeting was organized by the sex workers themselves. The participants came from different countries around the world. The largest representation there had organizations similar to our Odyseus, sex workers and transgender people.

At a meeting different topics of interest were discussed, but for me the most important was the comparison of conditions under which we work and challenges, that accompany us on that. I know that even here in Slovakia we do not have it in the sex industry all easy, but compared with some countries we're still pretty good. Although the European Union seeks to unite the whole of Europe and to establish uniform laws and rules for all Member States, business laws about sex are different in each country.

WHAT IS NEEDED TO BE ADDRESSED IN EUROPE?

  • it is necessary to stop the criminalization of sex workers. In many European countries, sex workers are forced to stop working if they are living with HIV. In Austria, sex workers, who are registered, must inform the police if they go on vacation and when they are pregnant they must stop working;
  • it is necessary to stop criminalizing customers;
  • public health institutions should be independent! They should not pass information about sex workers to police and other authorities. Working in the sex industry is not a disease!
  • sex workers have human rights, including right to access health care, regardless of where they come from;
  • laws about sex work in Europe vary depending on the country. Most of them are becoming more and more repressive to sex workers;
  • European Union countries must open their borders to guarantee human rights. Even for migrants;
  • In order to strengthen our advocacy for the rights of sex workers in Europe it is necessary to use the Brussels Declaration on the Rights of sex workers to a wider extent.

Although there are sayings, that our profession is the oldest in the world, the rights for which we fight are still in its infancy. And is sex work really a profession? On the day when we can say it officially, we will have won. Democracy, constitution and human rights - that is what now substitutes laws that would lead us to protection in sex industry. But for how long? It is also easy to stand on the street and earn money. So dear colleagues, is it really that easy? I wish you, that our profession becomes not only the oldest but also simple.

Your Sisi

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