National Mapping of Commercial Sex Workers in Albania
Significantly higher rates of HIV and STI infections have been documented among sex workers and their clients as compared to most other population groups within a country. However, the true extent of HIV transmission from sex workers and their clients to other populations remains generally unknown.
Many factors significantly contribute to raise sex workers' HIV and STI infection vulnerability, such as: stigmatization and marginalization, limited access to socio – health and legal services, sexual exploitation and trafficking, exposure to violence and substance abuse.
Sex workers in Albania live under the daily threat of violence (both verbal and physical), discrimination, constant fear of police actions, and lack of substantive support services. Major problems that sex workers are facing out include: lack of economical support, substance dependency and desperation at levels that are far worse than among general population. These problems are significant factors underlying the continued presence of this population on the streets. Furthermore, these dangers, in turn are compounded by stigma, isolation and hidden activity associated with their work.
Sex work is an illegal activity in Albania and article 114/a “foresees aggravating circumstances whereby the exploitation of prostitution is sentenced from 7 to 15 years imprisonment”. It is obvious that the current law enforcement is problematic because instead of reducing the sex work activity and risks associated with it, it drives sex work and sex workers further underground and detain them from seeking and receiving socio-health support and also keep them detached from the mainstream society. In addition, police rarely responds to the complaints of sex workers, even in cases of harsh violence towards them.
Finding concrete and realistic solutions to the needs of this invisible, vulnerable and marginalized community is imperative to helping them create safe and stable lives. Creating a safe environment for this group category would lead not only in reducing (among other problems) the rates of sexually transmitted infection and HIV but also would contribute in developing more friendly, innovative and less costly approaches.
For more information, go to: http://www.aksionplus.net/reports.html