General population information: Romania is a unitary semi-presidential republic located in Southeastern Europe.
Human Rights 2015: an overview by Amnesty International
HIV/AIDS rates: Total number of new HIV/AIDS cases registered from 01.01.2015 till 30.06.2015- 333. number of persons living with HIV/AIDS (Dec. 2013): 12.273, new HIV cases in 2013: 797 ( sharp increase of new infections in IDU - 233 persons in 2014 compared to 14 new infections in 2010) (according to the national data on HIV/AIDS- National Commission to Fight against AIDS, Ministry of Health)
Legal situation around sex work: Starting February 1st, 2014, according to the new Penal Code, sex work is no longer illegal in Romania. Procuring (pimping) remains illegal and sex workers’ clients are not punished.
According to the law 61/1991, sex workers are given fines (100 euros minimum) for ”disturbing public order” - if they contact clients in the street, parks, clubs and bars. Three types of Police forces are responsible for preventing sex workers activity in public places (according to law 61/1991): Police, Local Police and Gendarmes; consequently, sex workers frequently receive several fines during one night and may be taken to the Police station. As the only document mentioning sex workers as a target group is the National AIDS strategy, they are not included as a priority group for medico-social services for national or local authorities in Romania.
Services in country: Only two HIV prevention projects are available for sex workers, in Bucharest and surrounding areas, provided by two NGOs: ARAS and Carusel. Former outreach teams of ARAS, which provided services for sex workers in other 9 counties, were closed at the beginning of 2013, because of lack of funding (end of a project funded by the European Social Fund). Previously, the services were funded by UNAIDS, UNODC, UNICEF (for most at risk adolescents) and GFATM.
In Romania, the main existing funding mechanism is the European Social Fund. Through one of its programs - The Development of Human resources- it may provide funding for projects aiming at supporting vulnerable persons’ education and qualification as well as their integration on the labor market. Unfortunately, public health is not among the priorities of the programs funded by ESF in Romania.
Other funding mechanisms are available through the Swiss - Romanian Cooperation Programme and the EEA Norwegian Grants, which cover a wide range of funding objectives and services and organize highly competitive calls for proposals. Still, no project targeting sex workers has yet received any funding through these mechanisms.
The interventions previously funded (2004-2010) by the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria were not continued by the Romanian authorities.
Sex workers’ movement: A small sex worker initiative group (Maria Magdalena) in Bucharest is trying to gather more members and mobilize sex workers in fighting for their rights. This group of initiative is supported by ARAS.
On December 17 SWAN members held different local actions to raise the awareness and commemorate International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
On December 1, 2015 a number of SWAN members joined the commemoration of the World AIDS Day.
Anuntul.ro site is prosecuted for pimping, after prosecutors determined that through this site were recruited "customers" by many people, and the court set that, for the next 60 days, the site will not publish ads in the heading “She is looking for a partner”
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day has been held annually every third Sunday in May since 1983. On May 17, 2015 around 1200 organizations in 115 countries gathered to commemorate those who died from AIDS and to raise awareness about HIV. The official theme of the campaign worldwide was ‘Supporting the future’ dedicated to calling on the communities around the world to unite and demand a sustainable response to AIDS.
By ARAS and ARADOR-CH
For the end of violence against sex workers in Romania
December 17th is the day when organizations all over the world advocate for the end of violence against sex workers.
ARAS and APADOR-CH, non-governmental organizations in the field of health, respectively human rights presented the first study in Romania aimed on identifying abuses against these women.
Night by night, women facing social and medical vulnerability are confronting injuries, penalties, condom confiscation, physical aggression, rapes. Some of these actions are legal, others are violations of the law.
The situation in Romania on violence, abuse and criminalisation on sex work and sex workers impact very seriously sex workers human rights. And ARAS is among the very few NGOs still funded and fighting, in all the fields related to prevention of violence and human rights.
In this context, at December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, for the first time in Romania, ARAS intends to send the attached letter to authorities and the media.
Please, support our letter and send the name of your organization by December 15th to included into the list of signatures.
The more we are, the more visible our action will be.
Thank you very much,
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.
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)
More than 400 sex workers from Romania’s capital Bucharest will from mid-December be able to get free of charge rapid test and counseling for HIV, Hepatitis B and C and Syphilis. The voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) will be carried out by an outreach team of the Romanian NGO ARAS, member of the SWAN Network, in the places where sex workers work and live. The team will use “Social Ambulance”, a vehicle designed for providing services to sex workers. More