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Macedonia and Serbia: SWAN holds seminars on sex work for media reporters

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 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.

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The aim of the seminars was to present to the media the issues pertaining sex work in a different way and to ultimately contribute to better quality of media coverage of sex work and less sensationalism in the media.

 

At a programmatic meeting held in June this year in Belgrade, representatives of SWAN members from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia and Slovakia developed basic curriculum for a 3-hour sensitization seminar with media representatives, that is then going to be further developed in-country to fit local circumstances.

 

The first such seminar was organized in Slovakia in September. It was now followed by an event in Belgrade, Serbia on November 27 and Skopje, Macedonia on November 28.

 

The workshop “Sex work and media” in Skopje was organized by HOPS, SWAN Member from Macedonia in collaboration with the Macedonian Institute for Media (MIM). MIM assisted in selection of reporters and provided the site, Macedonian Press Club. Present were five reporters - 2 from daily newspapers and 3 from TV stations.

 

Most of the sessions were lead by the HOPS staff, except for the section on ethical issues in reporting sex work, for which MIM recommended to be lead either by a respectful journalist or by a human rights expert.

 

In the end it was hosted by a human rights expert who is also a columnist and very famous blogger. It was a very good decision-the reporters liked the interactive discussion he led.

 

“Our experience was very good” says Kate Partinova from HOPS. “Two of the participants have already contacted us after the workshop. They wanted our comments on the recent police raids and detentions of sex workers on the streets of Skopje. One of them published an article and for the first time used the term sex workers,” says Partinova.

 

HOPS plans to organize more sensitization seminars in the future. They consider signing a memorandum of understanding with MIM and developing similar curricula for the MIM journalism students.

 

The seminar in Belgrade was organized by JAZAS, SWAN member from Serbia. Reporters from daily newspapers, radio and internet news portals were present at the event held in the drop-in center run by JAZAS.

 

The interactive meeting covered several issues like using the language that does not hurt anyone, ethical considerations in reporting sex work, legal situation with sex work in Serbia, role of the government, NGOs and media in tackling the issues surrounding sex work, etc.

 

Participants received an information package in Serbian to take home - the Declaration on the rights of sex workers, a report by CEE HRN on sex work, human rights and HIV in Serbia and CEE, and a CD with research results from a project JAZAS had done on the prevalence of HIV among sex workers in Belgrade.

 

“Journalists who attended the seminar showed big interest in this topic and JAZAS programs” says Stasa Plecas from JAZAS. “They were very active and open to the new ideas. We tried to understand the dynamics between reporters and editors. They shared with us experiences thay had with editors who often request photographs in articles even though taking photographs in certain situations is unacceptable and inappropriate” adds Plecas. JAZAS plans to continue with similar seminars already this winter.

 

More info: Stasa Plecas, ecjazas@gmail.com,

Kate Partinova, partinova@yahoo.com

More about Jazas,

More about HOPS

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