General information (Wikipedia): Slovakia, officially the Slovak Republic (Slovak: Slovenská republika), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south.The population is over 5 million and comprised mostly of ethnic Slovaks.
Human Rights 2015: an overview by Amnesty International
HIV/AIDS rates: According to UNAIDS from 1985 till the 31-st of December 2014 HIV infection was diagnosed in 725 persons, out of which 595 were citizens of the Slovak Republic and 130 were foreigners. Out of 595 citizens of the Slovak Republic were 441 men and 71 women. In 78 HIV positive persons developed clinical symptoms of AIDS. Most HIV infections in the Slovak Republic was recorded in a group of men having sex with men.
Legal situation around sex work: Work in the sex industry in Slovakia is not legally treated. No law directly deals with work in the sex industry. Current criminal code (No. 300/2005) covers pimping legislation, human trafficking and people forced into prostitution. Punishments in these cases range from 1-12 years depending on the severity of the committed crime.
Services in country: NGO Odyseus is the only organization which has a special program dedicated to sex workers rights. However there are 3 other harm reduction organizations which provide needle exchange also for sex workers. Donors: SWAN, Slovak Czech Women´s Fund. No Global Fund presence in the country.
Sex workers’ movement: None
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.
By Lubica Tornosziova, Odyseus, Slovakia
During the International AIDS Conference in Vienna, SWAN ran a marketplace booth in the Global Village. Global Village was a space where everybody could go in, without needing special permission or badges. This meant that our booth was accessible not only to conference participants but also to the general public.
17 December, 2010, Bratislava - Odyseus, SWAN representative in Slovakia, uses International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers in a more positive way. The sex workers are invited to a small party. There will be nice food, typical for this period of the year and small presents for each guest!
There has never been a time, when fundraising for sex work projects was easy. Nonetheless, at Odyseus, we always had a few donors, who accepted (and even preferred) to support proposals that included services for sex workers. Since Slovakia joined the European Union, and even more specifically the Euro Zone, the situation started to change rapidly. As a result of the financial crises, funding diminished and with it, so did support for projects for sex workers and even more so, for advocacy for sex workers’ rights. Nowadays, we have very few, if any, options for funding to even apply for.
On Saturday, May 29, 2010 the third and final generation of SWAN groups participated in a training on media sensitizations in Tirana, Albania. Genci and Enkelejda of Aksion Plus were gracious hosts in their beautiful city. Representative from sex work projects from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Albania, Montenegro and Latvia participated in the one-day event which also brought together sex workers from Hungary, Albania and Bulgaria.
June 3, 2010
By Anna-Louise Crago
Over all the ethical breaches and problems surrounding media representation of sex workers echoed those of previous SWAN groups who did the media sensitization trainings. The fact that Hungary has a legalized system with tolerance zones contributed new dynamics and issues to think about.
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.
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)
C.A. Odyseus, SWAN member in Slovakia, has introduced a new element in their outreach services for street sex workers. Street cafeteria though still a novelty, has already proved to be a successful step in making social work more accessible and involving for sex workers.
„More than 90% of people who are working on the streets are women, according to our latest survey” – said Lubica Tornoczyova, the team member of Odyseus in an interview which she gave to the most read weekly paper in Slovakia. The article introduces the activity of the Odyseus and SWAN, and emphasize that prostitution is definitelly not a dream job for anyone; people usually choose it as a „less evil” solution, instead of stealing or giving children away to childcare.
„Moju dobrú kamarátku na ulici niekto zavraždil. Milé dievča, mala iba devätnásť rokov. Mne sa stalo pár mesiacov predtým, že na mňa zákazník vytiahol nôž. Udala som ho na polícii, ale o dva dni ho prepustili,“ vyratúva skúsenosti z ulice Mária. Aj tak je presvedčená, že nahlásiť treba každý útok, opísať zákazníka, iba tak sa dá zabrániť ďalšiemu násiliu. Kým nastúpi do auta, dobre si všimne ečevéčko. „Ja viem, aké sú moje práva, nie som nevzdelaná nula,“ pokračuje s tým, že už podávala sťažnosť aj na počínanie policajtov.
Sex work is work, and everyone has freedom to choose their work - was the message of this year’s December 17 campaign in Slovakia. Odyseus, SWAN member from Slovakia organized a month-long distribution of coasters and postcards with campaign messages in ten Slovakian towns.
Our Lives Matter: Sex Workers Unite for Health and Rights is a new report by Anna-Louise Crago, issued in August 2008 by the Open Society Institute. It highlights the creative ways in which sex workers in eight countries have organized to defend their human rights and health. Among thosee groups are also two SWAN members. In this issue we are publishing the chapter featuring Odyseus from Slovakia. More
On September the 4th the first seminar for journalists was held in Slovakia to help media reporters understand better human rights issues, stigma, violence, corruption and health problems that sex workers encounter on a daily basis. Similar seminars will soon be organized in other countries in the SWAN network. More
Lack of funding from the national Anti-drug Fund might soon result with closure of all harm reduction service providers in Slovakia. Since the country became an EU Member in 2004 most of the donors have left. EU funding is not available, leaving it to the national governments to foot the bill. After spending all their savings, SWAN member Odyseus has funds to fully operate till September. Odyseus alone estimates a gap of 23.000 euros in order to operate till the end of the year. More in a report by Peter Lazovy. More