Bulgaria: Discussion on legalization of prostitution gains (new) strength
Public discussion on legalization of prostitution has gained new strengths in the last few months in Bulgaria. Events that attracted public and political attention were two explosions and shooting in striptease bars in Sofia.
Those events were followed by a series of media reports about underground prostitution and the imminent need for some sort of legal regulation in the field. Many public figures engaged with the issues including representatives of HESED, SWAN member from Bulgaria.
In October the police intensified the raids against the clubs and street-based sex workers. They ordered closure of several clubs and started frequenting street sex work venues, among them those visited by HESED in their outreach work.
In 2007 the country was close to legalize prostitution but in the last moment, days before the planned parliament session, the direction abruptly changed (see Bulgaria moves away from legalizing prostitution).
The general political climate towards prostitution seems to have turned in the opposite direction after an official statement made in Sofia by a US government official.
“"Legalizing prostitution creates a legitimate business front for the most brutal exploitation of women," said at a conference held in Sofia in October 2007 Mark Lagon, the U.S. ambassador-at-large to combat human trafficking.
"It is the demand that draws a flow of people to a dark underground sex trafficking industry."
Gradually the discussion on legalization of prostitution died out by the beginning of 2008, only to be revived again in summer this year.