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.
The police has strengthened measures against sex workers in most of the big cities in Bulgaria this summer. Targets of the police actions have been street workers, clubs and apartments offering sex services. Sex work is not persecuted by the Bulgarian law, but prostitutes are routinely fined on alternative grounds. Street workers are charged for “breaking public order” or “endangering traffic”. Both street and in-door sex workers are charged for “gaining money in an immoral way”, a clause introduced by the recent Amendment to the Public Order Law (November 2005).
The mission of HESED is to carry out health promotion activities and to stimulate social development of underprivileged groups and communities on the territory of Bulgaria. The main target groups are sex workers, Roma people and men having sex with men.
In 1997, HESED was the first Bulgarian organization to start focusing on problems of sex workers in the country. Outreach work is based on accessibility, anonymity, confidentiality, and professionalism. The members of the team are professional psychologists and social workers. They offer free services such as health education and consultations; dissemination of specially designed educational materials, of condoms and lubricants; referral and accompanying to health and social services; harm reduction, needles and syringes exchange and training of peer educators. More