Historical/political snapshot (Wikipedia): Serbia, officially the Republic of Serbia, is a country situated at the crossroads between Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans.
Human Rights 2015: an overview by Amnesty International
HIV/AIDS rates: According to UNAIDS the cumulative number of HIV-infected people reported till 31st December 2014 was 3128.
HIV prevalence among sex-workers: HIV seroprevalence among sampled sex workers in Belgrade was almost the same in 2013 compared with results obtained in 2012 (1.6% versus 2%) (UNAIDS)
Legal situation around sex work: Sex work is illegal in Serbia, although being a client of a prostitute was not a criminal offense utill 2016.
In 2016 the penalties for sex work were increased. If arrested, both clients and sex workers are punished with up to 60 days in prison or fines up to 150 000 RSD (approximately 1300 EUR).
Services for sex workers:
Sex workers' movement: There is a sex worker-led organization Sloboda Prava, where sex workers are decision makers and staff.
Recently JAZAS’ self-support group facilitators and 6 sex workers went to the theater in April to watch the play “Suma blista” (Wondrous forest) which touches upon issues of trafficking and prostitution. The daughter of one of the facilitators acts in the play, and they thought it would be a great idea to arrange for sex workers to come and see the play.
Read news in Serbian (source)
Numerous media outlets in Serbia analyzed in December problems of human rights violations and violence against sex workers. This year sex workers for the first time ever participated in the campaign.
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.
A day after a Belgrade tabloid published a front-page story entitled “American whore to teach Serbian students” organizers cancelled the round table discussion that was supposed to take place at the faculty of Philosophy of the Belgrade University. The article and the ban caused a heated public debate and generally positive media articles about sex work and the particular case. More
Here are some of the echoes of the cancelled event in Belgrade, among them by Professor Viktorija Cucic of JAZAS, SWAN member from Belgrade and Vinaigrette, one of the sex workers who were to participate at the round table. 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
In end of September this year JAZAS, SWAN member from Serbia, will organize training sessions and assist in preliminary mapping of hot- spots in two smaller towns in Serbia – Subotica and Sombor. This will be first steps towards extending sex worker outreach services outside the Serbian capital. More
Declaration of the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe, one of the cornerstone documents on human rights for sex workers, adopted by more then 200 delegates participating at the European Conference on Sex Work, Human Rights, Labour and Migration held 15 to 17 October 2005 in the European Parliament in Brussels, is now available in Serbian, thanks to the Jazas, SWAN Member from Serbia. More
Association against AIDS – JAZAS, the SWAN member from Serbia, worked together with the Serbian Ministry of Interior to prepare a series of seminars under the title “Prevention of HIV/STI among Sex Workers”. The seminars are being organized during September and October in several main police stations in Belgrade, with an aim to sensitize law enforcement agency to the health issues surrounding street sex work. The interest seems to be huge, at the first workshop there were almost 100 participants. JAZAS prepared a new curricula for this two-day long event, using its own and experiences from abroad. “We are targeting police units that work on the street” – says Ana Krajnc, JAZAS Communications Officer – “We aim to engage the law enforcement agency to develop sensible and effective policies by considering health issues surrounding sex work. Sex work is illegal in Serbia and for example, condoms have often been used as an evidence material against sex workers.”