Country information: Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Қазақстан, tr. Qazaqstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a country in Central Asia, with a minor part west of the Ural River and thus in Europe.
Human rights 2015: An overview by Amnesty International.
Number of sex workers: 17.097 in 2014.
HIV/AIDS rates: The cumulative number of registered HIV positive persons by the end of 2013 was 19905. Currently, there are 14742 PLH, and 384 HIV positive children. Source.
HIV rates among sex workers: 1.5% - 2011
Legal situation around sex work: The law does not prohibit sex work. From January 1, 2015 on there is an administrative article 449 "Soliciting in public places" in Kazakhstan, which also regulates sex workers who solicit potential clients.
There is no law on sex workers' client punishment.
The Penalty Code punishes* the following crimes:
- coercion into prostitution: a fine up to 3000 montly minimum calculation index or corrective labor in the same equivalent, or custodial restraint for up to 3 years, or imprisonment for the same period with asset forfeiture (Art. 308);
- coercion of underaged into prostitution: imprisonment for 3 to 5 years with asset forfeiture (Art. 134);
- organization or management of a disorderly house for prostitution, and pandering: imprisonment for up to 5 years with asset forfeiture (Art. 309). Here both rented flats and hotel rooms are regulated;
- human trade (Art. 128).
There is a 2013 counter-human trafficking law that, in particular, prohibits providing premises purposefully for prostitution or pandering, as this is punishable by a fine.
* If there are aggravating circumstances - violence, threat, if the crime is executed by a group that agreed to do the crime beforehand, multiple times, or by a criminal group - more severe punishment of longer imprisonment.
Services in the country: Medical, legal, advocacy, social, preventive services. In some cities these services are not free of charge. Tfew NGOs whree sex workers are teh priority service provision group. The Global Fund is leaving the country, and it has stayed only in 5 regions, where it is conducting a harm reduction program among sex workers, drug users, and people living wit hHIV. Other NGOs provide services for sex workers and LGBT community only withing a framework of international grants.
Sex workers movement is absent.
SWAN members marked the International Sex Workers’ Rights Day on 3rd of March and the International Women's’ Day on 8 of March.
SWAN, within the Regional Platform EECA, has developed a video and community guide on the community’s engagement in Global Fund supported processes on the national level.
Between 10 th -12 th November, 2016, in Budapest, Hungary, SWAN in collaboration with IWRAW Asia Pacific hosted a Regional Meeting to discuss follow-ups on Concluding Observations given by the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) to 10 countries in the CEECA region - Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine.
A regional training on the SWIT (Sex Worker Implementation Tool) took place in Budapest on 21-25 June 2016. Teams from 7 countries attended the training: Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Georgia, Macedonia, Serbia. Among them were female, male and transgender sex workers.
On December 17 SWAN members held different local actions to raise the awareness and commemorate International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
The Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) and NSWP have hosted a training on sex worker advocacy and the implementation of rights-based HIV/STI programmes in Budapest, Hungary. The participants - from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Georgia - discussed the barriers sex workers face when advocating for their rights and the possible solutions to these barriers based on the SWIT tool.
An interview by Natalia Zholnerova to "Svoboda Slova" Kazakh newspaper about "Ameliya" and HIV/AIDS.
On December 1, 2015 a number of SWAN members joined the commemoration of the World AIDS Day.
July 18-23, Vienna, Austria – This year sex workers and allies from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia had a chance to talk about barriers and issues that sex workers face in their countries, to show what groups and organizations have achieved in addressing the pandemics and violations in their region. The Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) was represented by 11 activists from Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia and Montenegro, a team of young and energetic volunteers from Odyseus, Slovakia and a performance group from Bliss without Risk, Czech Republic.
Sex workers’ organizations across Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia used the opportunity of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers to advocate SW’s rights. Below is a summary of the activities carried out be the organizations.
What is the situation for girls from Uzbekistan or other countries in Kazakhstan ?
Recently, the migrant girls have the most problems. Let’s say their documents are OK. But the police take them to the police station and say they have to check their documents and then take the documents and lock the girls up. In a recent case in July in Taldykorgan, the police held the girls for six days, while they “checked” their documents. For six days, the girls were raped, beaten. They gave them nothing to eat. They were treated horribly while they were imprisoned. At the very end, they give their documents back and said “Your documents are fine, you can go.”
The meeting brought together 32 participants from 16 countries with the aim to exchange experience, share problems and find solutions, renew and strengthen the partnership ties and get to know new network members better.
The Ohrid network meeting was preceded by an activists’ meeting. 18 sex worker activists turned the meeting room into an art workshop and a cafeteria to discuss issues and personal experience around sex work in their countries.
To mark December 17, the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers, the Sex Workers' Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia is releasing its new report, Arrest the Violence: Human Rights Violations Against Sex Workers in 11 Countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The report is based on interviews with more than 200 male, female and transgender sex workers between 2007 and 2009 and chillingly documents widespread violence and discrimination against them, particularly by state actors.
According to Rebecca Schleifer of Human Rights Watch’s Health and Human Rights Division:
Arrest the Violence is the first piece of research done under the leadership of sex workers to document human rights violations they face across Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Sex workers throughout the region report that they face verbal and physical abuse, including beatings, kidnapping, and sexual violence, by police and private citizens. Sex workers also report that police confiscated condoms as “evidence” of sex work, and subjected them to mandatory HIV testing.
These are not isolated incidents. The physical, sexual, and verbal violations of sex workers’ rights are part of a pattern of abuse by police and in the community that is documented throughout the region.
It is my sincere hope that this report will serve as a catalyst to awaken the broader human rights community to the importance of documenting and denouncing human rights abuses against sex workers, and working with sex workers to end these abuses.
To access the report, please follow the links below.
Questions or comments may be directed to SWAN@TASZ.HU.
Coordinator Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN)
“People don’t go into the hospitals and beat up the doctors for doing their job !”
This interview with Victoriya, a sex worker from Kazakhstan from June 2008, provides a unique perspective on the local sex work situation. She touches on sex workers’ relationship wit the police, the changing nature of the profession and the little-discussed phenomena of heterosexual male sex workers selling sex to women. While the interview is frank and honest, she seems optimistic and has some words of encouragement for her fellow sex workers.
“My message to all the sex workers who read SWAN News is: It doesn’t matter what kind of sex you are having, the most important is for it to be safe !”
The organization of physically challenged citizens petitions Kazakh government to legalize prostitution and to introduce a section in the state budget that would cover sexual services for physically challenged people. Read more in Russian.
In the framework of December 17 campaign, Social Bureau Kovcheg, SWAN member from Kazakhstan, organized a human rights seminar for sex workers in Taldikorgan. Participating were 20 sex workers.
Seminars on sex work and human rights for media reporters were organized in November by SWAN member organizations in Sankt Petersburg, Irkutsk and Chelyabinsk in Russia, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and Taldikorgan in Kazakhstan.