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Country information: Bulgaria (Bulgarian: България, tr. Bǎlgarija), officially the Republic of Bulgaria (Bulgarian: Република България, tr. Republika Bǎlgarija), is a country in southeastern Europe.

Human rights 2015: An overview by Amnesty International.

Number of sex workers: 11 000 as of 2014, according to a national mapping conducted by outreach teams for the Program Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS rates: The general number of registered people living with HIV in the country as of 25 July 2015 is 2 169 persons. More data can be found HERE.

HIV rates among sex workers: 1.76% (2012) according Country Progress Report for UNAIDS 2014.

Legal situation around sex work: Sex work in Bulgaria is neither legal, nor criminal, it is not regulated by any law. Still, sex workers can be fined

  • for “gaining money in an immoral way” under the Criminal Code,
  • for lack of personal documents and being too noisy under the Law for violating public order,
  • for standing on the street / road / ring road under the Traffic law.

The Penalty Code punishes the following crimes:

  • Organization of paid sexual services: the organizers of sex industry and people providing venues for sex work are viewed as criminal subjects.  As a result of this, not just managers but also indoor sex workers who work collectively may be punishable under the law.
  • Coercion of underage prostitution.
  • Trafficking of human beings, which is often mixed with sexual exploitation and prostitution (mentioned also in the Law against trafficking of human beings).

Neither buying sex, nor offering sexual services via the Internet are regulated.

Services for sex workers: About 80% of the territory of the country is covered by 9 NGOs working in the biggest cities providing mainly outreach services with focus on HIV prevention in the frames of Program for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS 2004 - 2015, administered by the Ministry of health and funded by GFATM. Additionally there are small projects (some with human rights protection focus) funded by the European commission.GFATM left the country after December 2015 and the services are still not guaranteed by the national and local authorities.

Sex workers’ movement: Due to heavy stigmatization of all marginalized groups in Bulgaria, stigma around sex work and negative attitude of media that often mix sex work and trafficking, sex workers hide and fear being “outed” and raise their own voices.There is no self-organization of sex workers in Bulgaria.

Detailed information can be found HERE.

Latest news

By Aliya on Jan 26th, 2009

Sex workers have their rights, and one of the basic human rights is freedom of violence – this was the message of the 2008 December 17 campaign in Bulgaria. In the second year of campaigning for rights of sex workers, SWAN member HESED focused its activities on sex workers, their clients, and national and international partner organizations.

By Aliya on Jan 22nd, 2009

The sixth annual national meeting of NGOs working with sex workers was held on December 5 - 7 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The aim of the meeting was to exchange information and work experiences.

By Aliya on Jan 22nd, 2009

In December 2008 HESED, SWAN member from Bulgaria, won a grant from the European Commission to take part in a multinational outreach project with indoor sex workers. The novelty approach this project brings are the Internet consultations with sex workers. Also in December, HESED was given a special award at the National AIDS Partnership Meeting for its pioneering work with sex workers.

By Aliya on Dec 10th, 2008

Public discussion on legalization of prostitution has gained new strengths in the last few months in Bulgaria. Events that attracted public and political attention were two explosions and shooting in striptease bars in Sofia. More

By Aliya on Oct 23rd, 2007
By Aliya on Sep 14th, 2007