Country infromation: Macedonia, (Македонија, officially the Republic of Macedonia - Република Македонија) is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe.
Human Rights 2015: an overview by Amnesty International
Number of sex workers: 2200- 3600 according to the estimation made in 2010 by the Institute for public heath.
HIV/AIDS rates: There have been registered 239 cases of HIV/AIDS until the end of February 2014.
HIV rates among sex workers: 0% as of August 2015.
Legal situation around sex work: Individual sex work in public spaces is illegal, it is an administrative offense and it is regarded as a violation against the public order (art. 19 from the Law on misdemeanors against the public order and peace). The same article states that it is punishable by a fine to provide (rent) space for an act of prostitution. Also the same law defines among others restaurants and hotels as public spaces, so their owners can be punished for providing space for sex work.
The Criminal Law (Art. 191, year 1996) punishes:
- the crimes that aim at procuring, encouragement, earning by facilitating the provision of sexual services;
- human trafficking;
- involvment of underaged in sex industry.
There is no regulation about renting an appartment to a sex worker.
There is no law that punishes clients. Still, any person can be punished under the Law on misdemeanors for having sex in a public place. Practically, police targets only sex workers.
Services in country: Services for sex workers are only provided by the civil sector and those services are in major part sponsored by the GF through the Ministry of Health. Sex workers have access to
- social services (support for implementing social and health rights),
- legal services (free legal support for addressing violations of rights and strategic court litigation),
- health services (free gynecological services, condoms and lubricants, free STI medications, VCT),
- services from psychotherapist (for overcoming burn out, dealing with effects from experienced violence),
- services from pedagogue (for supporting the children of sex workers),
- outreach activities, direct services in Drop-in center (laundry machines, showers, hot meal),
- peer educations,
- creative workshops,
- educational workshops,
- services from stylist/peer educator.
Most of the funding for the services for sex workers comes from the GF with its final round until 2016.
Sex workers’ movement: STAR-STAR is a formal civil society organization lead from sex workers positioning as the first sex workers collective on the Balkans with its Executive Board comprised of 100% sex workers.
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)
"From us to us" published by STAR, a Macedonian sex workers’ rights activists group covers local and international news about sex work and provides an overview of various opinions on trafficking. Read Issue 7 and Issue 8 in Macedonian.
After the police raid that took place on 20-21st November, 2008 in Skopje, Macedonia during which 23 sex workers were detained and tested for HIV, HEP B and HEP C, both national and international human rights groups, sex workers groups, supporters and allies took a wide range of actions to raise awareness on the issue, protect the sex workers involved and prevent similar future violations.
May 20-24, 2009, Skopje – 13 sex workers from 3 cities met for a peer-assist training organized by H.E.R.A. and HOPS, SWAN member in Macedonia, and supported by UNFPA-Macedonia.
HOPS, which works to protect and promote the rights of sex workers, started partnership with WITNES (www.witness.org), human rights organization (based in New York but working globally), who uses and promotes video activism as an effective and supportive tool for promotion of rights of different groups within ongoing human rights campaigns. Concrete partnership between HOPS and WITNESS includes support in developing video advocacy plan about integrating video in this year’s 17th December campaign.
In several countries SWAN member organizations, sex workers, their friends and supporters, organized collection of signatures on a SWAN petition regarding the November 2008 detention and involuntary HIV and STI testing of sex workers in Skopje, Macedonia.
High-profile multimedia exhibition, public opening of red umbrellas, post cards and newsletter distribution were parts of this years campaign, that aimed at raising awareness of general audience about discrimination against sex workers, and of sex workers about their own rights. A song on sex workers released in Skopje.
December 17 campaign sparked media interest in the situation sex workers experience in other countries in the region. Several Serbian media noted the red umbrella march and exhibition in Skopje and commented on forced STI testing action in November. Macedonian media on their side reported about issues sex workers face in Albania.
Macedonian media reported that “more then 30 international NGOs criticized Macedonian governments’ action” in which in November last year a number of alleged sex workers were detained, involuntarily tested and their identities released to the media.
STAR, Macedonian sex workers organization, issued on December 17 the third issue of the newsletter From us to Us. Supported by HOPS, SWAN member from Macedonia, the newsletter provides sex workers with possibility to speak up about fun, health, safety and human rights.
More then 30 sex workers, clients, mediators and one social worker from HOPS, SWAN member from Macedonia, detained in a massive raid; involuntary STI tests performed; civil society says human rights seriously violated
Coalition for Protection and Promotion of Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities (HOPS, HERA, MASSO, MHRN, STAR, IZBOR) excoriates the last “coordinated action for suppression of street prostitution” of the Office of Interior (SVR), Skopje, Macedonia, and finds serious indications of severe procedural mistakes, misuse of official activity and flagrant violence of the basic human and health rights of the persons (sex workers) detained, as well as their direct discrimination on the ground of their work as sex workers on open scene. More
SWAN members have sent letters of protest to Macedonian government. But your support is also needed. Please download the letter of support here, put your logo, sign, and fax or email to the listed officials. Thank you!
Here is what the Coalition for protection and promotion of sexual and health rights of marginalized communities has done so far in the follow-up of the action by the Macedonian police. More
November 23, 2008 – “Maybe the NGOs think that the revolt of the citizens is irrelevant, and it is “normal” to offer oral sex to a 15-year old, for a certain amount of money” – is only one of the questions raised in the official statement by the Macedonian Ministry of Interior, published on their web site and released to the Media on November 28. More
Sex workers in Skopje, capital of Macedonia, issued this winter first two numbers of a community newsletter entitled “From us to us”. More
In the latest issue of the SWAN News we wrote about the seminar on sex work organized in September for media reporters in Slovakia. In the meantime, similar seminars were organized in November in Macedonia and Serbia. More
In June this year sex workers from Macedonia and Serbia participated at training in Belgrade where basic skills are developed for preparation of community newsletters. Preparations are underway among sex workers in those two countries to voice their issues, pride and concerns in publications targeting their own local community. More