Historical/political snapshot (Wikipedia): Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a contiguous transcontinental parliamentary republic largely located in Western Asia with the smaller portion of Eastern Thrace in Southeastern Europe.
Human Rights 2015: an overview by Amnesty International
HIV/AIDS rates: There are 5,500 people living with HIV in Turkey (2011)
HIV prevalence among sex workers: There is no information regarding HiV/AIDS rates among sex workers in the country.
Legal situation around sex work: Sex work is legal. Laws around sex work are problematic. Sex work itself is not a crime, however any step taken to be able to do sex work is a crime.
Turkish Penal Code punishes:
- providing space for prostitution,
- encouraging a person to prostitution,
In addition to this, Charter on STIs and Preventing Prostitution regulates sex work in the country, designing where sex work can be done and where not. Registered brothels are places where registered sex workers can work legally, BUT to work legally sex worker have to be TURKISH CITIZEN, WOMAN and NOT married. Apart from this, working at home, clubs, massage parlours, streets is banned with this Charter. Houses are raided, clubs, parlours are closed down or street sex workers are applied fines to prevent this. Law on Misdemeanors is used for administrative fines.
Services for sex workers: The only service for sex workers is the legal service provided by Red Umbrella. Government has not provided any legal, psychological, medical, etc. services for sex workers. Global Fund does not sponsor Turkey. Red Umbrella is the only registered organization with clear references to sex workers rights. There are very few trans groups which support sex workers rights however do not have any sex work-specific advocacy work.
Sex workers' movement:
SWAN members marked the International Sex Workers’ Rights Day on 3rd of March and the International Women's’ Day on 8 of March.
Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association published the Manual for the Ministry of Health in Turkey on Provision and Management of Health Services for Sex Workers in Turkey.
Here you can find a series of five publications about sex workers' rights violations in Turkey.
SWAN members from Poland, Macedonia, Russia, Turkey, Slovakia and Ukraine commemorated the 17th of December with different events.
Kemalita Ördek, the executive director of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association, a transgender sex worker and human rights activist, was violently attacked by 3 criminals in her house in Ankara in July 2015. All 3 attackers were found guilty and sentenced.
Violent attacks against transgender people in Turkey continue unabated. Hande Kader, a 23-year-old transgender woman based in Istanbul, disappeared a little over one week ago. Her friends and partner filed a missing person’s report. Hande Kader’s burned and mutilated body was found in Zekeriyaköy (district of Istanbul) by the side of the road, reported the LGBTI News Turkey.
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.
Transgender woman stabbed in her heart lost her life in Haramidere, Avcilar-Istanbul on December 2, 2015.
Nilay, a trans woman sex worker was found dead November 23 in her own house in Maltepe, Istanbul, several days after Transgender Day of Remembrance. Police response to an Istanbul LGBTI activist who requested information was “Already dead, why do you care?”
We are sad and angry to learn that on July 5th, Kemalita Ördek, SWAN Steering Committee member, LGBTQI and sex workers’ rights activist and the founder of Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Organization in Turkey, was attacked and raped in her own home. Kemalita was subsequently humiliated and discriminated by the police that also failed to secure her personal safety. The perpetrators were set free and therefore Kemalita is in a life threatening situation due to police discrimination and lack of access to justice.
One of the founders of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association (Kırmızı Şemsiye), Kemal Ördek, was raped in their home on Sunday. Kemal Ördek shared the following text with LGBTI News Turkey in Turkish and explained the violence, the discrimination, and the fear.
Turkish advocates have been calling for recognition of a spate of violence against trans women in the country. Over the space of two weeks, seven trans women were violently attacked in different cities around Turkey.
Sex workers, sex workers’ rights activists, groups and allies celebrated May 1 with various actions. SWAN members also joined the celebration, you can read more about actions that took place in Turkey, BiH, Bulgaria and Macedonia on May 1, 2015 below.
Source: Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association on Başka Haber
Today is December 17, the Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Female, male, and trans sex workers are trying to continue their lives amidst violence in Turkey and across the world. Labeling, othering, social exclusion, discrimination, violence, and murder are the daily experiences for sex workers. Sex workers are imprisoned in the cycles of threats, sexual assault, extortion, physical assaults, and murder. Society does not oppose this situation and officials do not take preventative measures. Sex workers are left to die.
A short video produced by Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association Turkey, a member of SWAN, on the occasion of 17 December 2013, in order to bring attention to the violence that sex workers experience in Turkey.