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Country info

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.

Latest news

By Aliya on Apr 12th, 2010

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.

By olga on Apr 7th, 2010

In Macedonia, as throughout the world, sex workers are pushed to the margins of society by a combination of prejudice, discrimination, and violence. Insults and hate plague their lives, pervade media reports, and direct the approach of social institutions. But the lives and livelihoods of sex workers comprise of much more and the conviction remains that the selling of sexual services does not justify denial of fundamental rights, to which all human beings are entitled.

By olga on Apr 7th, 2010

On 25th-29th April 2010, the 21st International Harm Reduction Conference is taking place where it was first established in Liverpool, England.

By olga on Apr 7th, 2010

In January 2010 the government of Macedonia proposed a new draft of the long-awaited anti-discrimination law. Though previous drafts included "sexual direction" as ground protected against discrimination, it has been eliminated from the present draft. Boris O. Dittrich, the advocacy director in the program for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of Human Rights Watch wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of Macedonia.

By Aliya on Dec 17th, 2009

December 17 is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and our featured video comes to you from Macedonia, where local NGO Healthy Options Projects Skopje (HOPS) partnered with WITNESS this year on a campaign to end violence, marginalization, and criminalization of sex workers.

In Macedonia, as throughout the world, sex workers are pushed to the margins of society by a combination of prejudice, discrimination, and violence. Yet, the fact that a person sells sexual services cannot be used as justification for the denial of their fundamental rights, to which all human beings are entitled.

By Aliya on Dec 16th, 2009

STAR (sex worker rights activist group) of Macedonia designed and launched a calendar for 2010, to mark December 17th and sex workers’ rights. The calendar may be downloaded from SWAN's website here in pdf format, and quality print versions may be requested from the STAR team (write to SWAN coordinator to swan@tasz.hu ).

STAR Newsletter is celebrating its 1 year of existence! Read issue 9 here. It features, among other articles, confession of a sex worker, quotes from famous people. There is a sex advice column, and information on sexual rights. Those interested can check what the Egyptian horoscope holds for them.

The 10th issue of the STAR newsletter From Us to US is dedicated to December 17 and the issues of human rights. Read Issue 10 here.

By Aliya on Dec 16th, 2009

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.

By Aliya on Dec 16th, 2009

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.

By Aliya on Dec 15th, 2009

(translated from Hungarian)

The participants included sex workers and representatives of organizations promoting sex workers’ rights from 16 countries . When checking in it was already clear that we were about to have a training of relaxed atmosphere with a team of nice, intelligent and funny people. The level of the hotel service further raised our mood.

By Aliya on Dec 15th, 2009

Dear all:

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.

Aliya Rakhmetova
Coordinator Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN)


By olga on Nov 3rd, 2009

"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.

By Guest on Sep 28th, 2009

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.

By Aliya on Jun 22nd, 2009

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.

By Aliya on Jun 19th, 2009

Macedonian group of sex workers STAR has developed the 6th issue of their community newsletter. In this issue: a story of a prostitute, sex work and economic crisis, peer-training in Skopje, basic human rights, and more! Download Issue 6 in Macedonian here. Download previous Issue here.

By Aliya on Mar 29th, 2009

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.

By Aliya on Jan 27th, 2009

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.

By Aliya on Jan 27th, 2009

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.

By Aliya on Jan 26th, 2009

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.

By Aliya on Jan 26th, 2009

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.

By Aliya on Jan 22nd, 2009

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.