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Country info

Historical/political snapshot (Wikipedia): Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km2, making it the largest wholly European country and the second largest country in Europe.

Human Rights 2015: an overview by Amnesty International

HIV/AIDS rates: 290.000 HIV positive people as of 2014, prevalence rate among adults aged 15 to 49 is 1,2% (UNAIDS)

HIV prevalence among sex workers: 7,3% according to "Alliance".

Legal situation around sex work: Sex work is an administrative offense.

Under the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses sex work is punished either by a warning or a fine of 5 to 10 untaxed minimum income of citizens (85 to 170 UAH), and if a person is caught doing sex work for the second time within a year, then the fine is 8 to 15 untaxed minimum income of citizens (136 to 255 UAH).

Purchase of sexual services is not prohibited.

The Criminal code punishes:

  • creating or maintaining of a brothel and pandering (Art. 302): a fine up to 50 untaxed minimum income of citizens or restraint of freedom for up to 2 years. If commited for profit / by a previously convicted person / by an organized group - restraint of freedom or imprisonment for up to 5 years. If commited to a minor - imprisonment for 2 to 7 years.
  • pimping or coercion into prostitution (Art. 303): imprisonment for 3 to 5 years. If commited with several persons / repeatedly / with a previous agreement among several p[eople / by an official / by a person from whom a victim was dependant - imprisonment for 4 to 7 years. If commited to a minor / by a group - imprisonment for 5 to 10 years and confiscatino of property. If commited to a minor or with aggreviating circumstances - imprisonment for 8 to 15 years and confiscation of property.
  • human trafficking is punished by imprisonment for 3 to 8 years or in case of aggreviating circumstances - imprisonment for 5 to 12 and 8 to 15 years with confiscation of property.

Services for sex-workers: In Ukraine, in 2011, HIV and STI prevention services for sex workers were provided by 54 NGOs in all regions of the country. Every client is offered a basic package of services. In 2010, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine piloted a peer - driven intervention project for HIV prevention among sex workers, which aimed to reach new groups of sex workers, identify their nee ds for services, raise awareness of HIV an d provide quality HIV and STI counselling and testing. The intervention was scaled up to seven sites, reaching 2 700 women engaged in sex work by September 2011. In January 2012, five new peer - driven interventions were launched. This approach has enabled N GOs to reach new sub - groups of sex workers including those working in apartments and other hard - to - reach places, those aged 14 - 18 years and those working through the internet. More than half of the project clients were aged below 25 years, the sub - group of sex workers most vulnerable to HIV and STI.

Sex-workers' movement:

Latest news

By maria on Sep 1st, 2015

As Amnesty International adopted policy on decriminalization of sex work, the police keeps on busting more places in Kyiv where sex work is done, and more politicians and authorities start discussing legalization of sex work in Ukraine, this topic gets more public attention nowadays.

By maria on Aug 20th, 2015

On August 3, 2015, Kirovograd oblast branch charitable organization "All-Ukrainian League «Legalife»" made changes in its name and its statute documents, hence became an independent organization.

By ekaterina on Aug 10th, 2015

On 7-9 of June 2015 the All-Ukrainian League "LEGALIFE" held the training in Kiev on team building and leadership for activists of the young initiative sex workers' groups from the regions.

By maria on Jul 17th, 2015

Ukrainian National TV channel 24 visited Elena Tsukerman from All-Ukrainian League “Legalife” in Kiev, made a 1,5 hours interview, the journalists discussed serious topics with Elena, and they even tried to dig deeply in these topics. As a result, they have made a 4 minutes long video on the topic of legalization of sex work in Ukraine. You can see the video (in Ukrainian and Russian) here. You can read the transcript of the video in English, as well as Elena’s comments below.

By ekaterina on Jun 22nd, 2015

June 17-18, 2015, Kyiv: UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund in Ukraine) in cooperation with the League "LEGALIFE" conducted a training on building awareness of sex workers on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) prevention and their familiarization with WHO/UNFPA/NSWP/World Bank advocated approaches to implementation of clinical and support services packages for sex workers

By ekaterina on May 30th, 2015

The money from this activity, in the case of legalization will replenish the state budget, according to the MP.

By ekaterina on May 28th, 2015

An interview of Elena Tsukerman to Dafna Rachok and "Politychna Krytyka (Political Critique)" online magazine about "Legalife" and on situation of sex workers in Ukraine

By ekaterina on May 15th, 2015

This information was shared by a number of mass media in Ukraine and Russia. Below, you can find an article by “Korrespondent”, comments by the representatives of All-ukrainian League ‘Legalife’ and further investigation by “Road Patrol”

By ekaterina on May 10th, 2015

All-Ukrainian League "LEGALIFE" activist Irina on the problem of violence against sex workers by the police.

By admin on May 14th, 2012

By Elena Tsukerman,

Head of the charity organization "All-Ukrainian League Legalife"

While the officials from the Ministry of Interior and Ukrainian politicians state that they are not ready to start a dialogue with sex workers, apparently because they are “above” this, a British MP Lord Norman Fowler not only talked to me, a representative of the sex worker community, but has also agreed that sex work is work!

By admin on Dec 19th, 2011

ForUm, December 16, 2011:

The most common form of violence against women in Ukraine is psychological violence. The journasilst of ForUm was invited to a press-conference dedicated to issues of human rights and tolarant treatment of women who provide sexual services.

Irina Demchenko, the director of the analitical center "Socioconsulting" announced the findings of the research done by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine. The survey involved 300 sex workers and 42 managers. (read the article in Russian below)

By admin on Dec 15th, 2011

By Aliya Rakhmetova
Beginning of November 2011, Ukrainian Verhovnaya Rada (a supreme body similar to Parliament) reviewed a bill on changing the legislation around ‘prostitution’. In the background note, Mogilev, the Minister of Interior, writes that the reason for the reform is the fact that existing legislation is not working (news article link http://cripo.com.ua/index.php?sect_id=10&aid=125635 ).

By admin on Dec 14th, 2011

Aliya Rakhmetova, SWAN Coordinator: I met Vantala (her nickname) at the International AIDS Conference. She came there with the drug users' community from Ukraine and was mostly participating in discussions around harm reduction and drug use in the region. She is a human rights activists, who supports rights of drug users and sex workers. So I thought it might make sense to look into the reality in which sex workers who use drugs live in Ukraine. The interview was held in Russian and I took short notes, so I hope I didn't miss anything.

AR: Tell me about yourself.
V: When there was nothing to sell or steal from home to support my drug habit, I had to think about other ways to find money. By the looks men gave me it was obvious that I was attractive. So I started to provide sexual services… It wasn't difficult. I knew about sex from movies. After getting paid I would go to the other end of the city to my dealer to buy drugs. The next evening everything started again.
Surprisingly, in 3 years of my sex work experience I never was harassed by the police. Maybe my expensive outfit looked more like a young girl going to a party?

By admin on Nov 8th, 2011

Beginning of November 2011, Ukrainian Verhovnaya Rada (a supreme body similar to Parliament) reviewed a bill on changing the legislation around ‘prostitution’. In the background note, Mogilev, the Minister of Interior, writes that the reason for the reform is the fact that existing legislation is not working (news article link http://cripo.com.ua/index.php?sect_id=10&aid=125635 ).

By admin on Mar 7th, 2011

By Marija Tosheva, HOPS, Macedonia

On July 20, 2010, the second day of Vienna conference, SWAN organized an oral session on Sex work, mobility, migration and human rights in Europe and Central Asia. 6 experienced activists from the region, members of SWAN and TAMPEP networks, had a chance in front of an excellent audience to challenge and start a discussion on vulnerabilities and structural barriers faced by mobile and migrant sex workers to better health and human rights.

By admin on Mar 7th, 2011

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 Aliya on Dec 17th, 2010

... "In 2010, the State, for the first time, legally recognized the existence of sex workers in Ukraine and cemented this fact in the domestic legislation. In particular, the Order № 3123/275/770 “On approval of standards for the provision of social services to representatives of risk groups”, which establishes the definition of “persons in sex business”, was signed by three ministers and the profile is registered with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. On November 1, this binding for all authorities of the legal act entered into force."...

Read whole Press-release in English here.

By Aliya on Nov 24th, 2010

Dear Friends! From my own experience in providing social assistance and the many testimonies, we, the members of the Ukrainian League LEGALIFE can say a lot about the systematic and massive violations of the rights of sex workers' by the police in Ukraine.

By Aliya on Jul 11th, 2010

March, 2010, Budapest – The beginning of March proved to be busy and full of events for some of SWAN members. SWAN representatives from Tais Plus (Kyrgyzstan), Legalife (Ukraine), Humanitarian Action (Russia) and the SWAN secretariat were invited to Budapest by the Open Society Institute to take part in an intensive 5-day hands-on training in creating advocacy films.

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.