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SWAN conference session on Sex workers in Europe and Central Asia: Mobility, migration and human rights

By Marija Tosheva, HOPS, Macedonia

On July 20, 2010, the second day of Vienna conference, SWAN organized an oral session on Sex work, mobility, migration and human rights in Europe and Central Asia. 6 experienced activists from the region, members of SWAN and TAMPEP networks, had a chance in front of an excellent audience to challenge and start a discussion on vulnerabilities and structural barriers faced by mobile and migrant sex workers to better health and human rights.

Presentations provided an overview of the trends of mobility and migration in Western, Southern, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia when sex workers move either internally or across the boarders. Presenters and participants looked into human rights and other factors that affect sex workers’ health, access to HIV prevention and care, as well as human rights: such as law and policy; linguistic and cultural barriers; and repression and discrimination in the “receiving” country or region. Stories from Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Slovakia shared the positive and challenging experiences to overcoming those barriers, sex workers supporting each other to improve their living and working conditions, and in so-doing, prevent HIV transmission and reduce vulnerabilities to the infection.

The international audience found the session very informative and challenging regarding their view on sex work, and sex workers mobility, which was obvious from the excellent questions regarding different law regulations and restrictions, issues of the minors, influence of financial pressure to sex workers and increase of their vulnerability.

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