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SWAN News, Issue 17, Year 3, February-March 2008

IN FOCUS: Drop-in centers and police violence
Drop-in centers: The Trust Center in Murmansk, Russian Federation
In the previous issue of the SWAN News we exchanged experiences and provided tips for opening low-threshold drop-in centers for sex workers. The topic raised significant interest among our readers who contacted both the SWAN News and our Macedonian partner who provided the tips. We decided to continue this topic by presenting one such center that recently opened in Murmansk, in the Russian Federation. More

Police violence: Policemen in Paris found guilty of gang raping Albanian sex workers
Unfortunately, it is not only customers, pimps and street gangs who engage in abuse against sex workers: very often police join in blackmailing them or using violence in order to extract money or sex from them. This topic continues to be high on the agenda both of the sex workers and human rights activists.
But sex workers are more often then ever realizing that violence is not part of their job description and that they, too have human rights. The Sex Workers’ Advocacy School in this issue focuses on what sex workers and their allies can do to report police abuse. In addition to that, we are publishing excerpts from media articles about the case in which in 2004 seven police officers were charged for “aggravated gang rape” of foreign sex workers in Paris. Last year the trial ended and five of the seven – this time already former police officers were found guilty. We thank Anna-Louise Crago for the translation from French. More


SWAN NEWS PRESENT: Bliss without Risk, SWAN member from Czech Republic
This article that recently appeared in Transitions Online, www.tol.cz , presents an extraordinary work of Bliss without Risk from Czech Republic and its founder Hana Malinova More

Czech Republic: Will prostitutes in Prague need license?
A new law is pending in the Prague City Council, according to which prostitutes working in the Czech capital will need to have a license, issued by the city authorities. Bliss without Risk, SWAN member from Czech Republic, opposes the notion. More

Bulgaria: Before voting against legalization, society should hear the opposite view
Capital, the leading national Bulgarian weekly recently published an article that comments on the policy change that took place in Bulgaria in the end of last year, about which SWAN News wrote earlier: namely to move away from the original plans to proceed with legalization of prostitution in this new EU Member state. The following review of the article is prepared by Angelina Georgieva from HESED, SWAN Member from Bulgaria. More

Serbia, Bulgaria: Program implemented by SWAN members gets an international award
Youth Peer Network from New York awarded in December 2007 SOA AIDS from Netherlands for their work in HIV prevention and harm reduction among sex workers. Awarded is the POP project that is implemented by SOA AIDS, JAZAS, SWAN member from Serbia, and HESED, SWAN member from Bulgaria. More

Macedonia: CODE: RED Skopje, Lesson 1
At an exhibition in Skopje, five high school students used the gallery walls as a school board. They repeated writing the sentence: “Sex workers' rights are human rights.” More

Ukraine: Live Library in Kiev
The initiative Live Library has the aim to stress on the issues of stigma and discrimination against people representing different groups of society, who usually are isolated by the society through their difference from the majority. This event is meant to help us understand and realize, where do stereotypes come from and how often they are the reflection of our inner fears, lack of information and confidence, than the actual reality. More

Croatia: Groups charge the state is endangering lives of its youth
On 10th October 2007, a group of advocacy organizations in Croatia filed the first human rights legal challenge to a faith- based sex-education program with roots in the United States. More

The Netherlands: What is the future of Amsterdam’s Red Light District?
For over a year the tone of the public discussion on prostitution in The Netherlands has been changing. There are a number of high profile cases of trafficking and forced prostitution that were covered extensively in the press. The result is that the political debate is nearly completely focussed on the accompanying negative aspects of prostitution. More

Denmark: Sex workers union established
Danish sex workers, street workers and their lawyers have just founded an organisation/union for and by sex workers called SIO – Sex Workers Interest Organisation. The organization was launched at a press conference at the Erotic Museum in Copenhagen. SWAN welcomes SIO and wishes lots of success in their work.
Link to the organization: http://www.sexarbejde.dk
An article on SIO in a Danish newspaper can be found here.


In this column, SWAN News publishes articles that can help sex workers rights advocates in their daily work: how to challenge the myths surrounding sex work, how to fight abolitionists, how to work with media, communicate, create an effective message and get it across.
Documenting Police Abuse
In this issue of the Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy School, we will talk about documenting police abuse. Many SWAN members get reports from sex workers in their countries about being routinely approached by the police with requests for money or sex. Police do not even refrain from using force and physical abuse. What can be done in such situations? Sex workers often keep quiet only to find situation further deteriorating. Our consultant Anna-Louise Crago outlines an easy plan of action for SWAN members and other readers who are facing similar problems. More 

Nothing about us without us is a message repeated more often then ever before by sex workers around the world. In this column sex workers from the region express their opinions, tell us about their lives, problems and dreams. The column is edited by Anna-Louise Crago, sex worker and advocate for sex workers human rights. Contributions are welcome: write to annalouisecrago(at)gmail(dot)com
Report from Ukraine: “Police are one of our main problems”
In part 2 of our special focus on Ukraine, we present an interview with Ira Mishina, Iriska and Natasha about sex workers’ rights in this country, and about the All-Ukrainian Network of Sex Workers. More

VIDEO: SWAN action featured on a December 2007 video by SWAP
A recent SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project-LA) video about the December 2007 campaign to stop violence against sex workers featured SWAN cards campaign. See the video here.

"I felt like an object, I had never felt that way before."
-- Irini, one of the Albanian sex workers gang-raped last year by the French police in Paris, while testifying at the trial of the terror she felt during the rape. She was given an apology and awarded 12,000 Euros for moral damages. Out of the seven charged policemen, three were given seven years in jail for rape; two were given prison sentences for being complicit and two were acquitted.

"We went about it with joy and good humor, if you will, we played on the fact that we were police officers, we negotiated prices by saying: How much is it for the police? Where do you come from? What is your age?"… "Most of the time, we were under the effect of alcohol, under the effect of the group. It was known about and tolerated by the hierarchy."
-- One of the seven French police officers, accused with his colleagues of having abused his authority to rape prostitutes in Paris last year, in an interview to the Europe-1 news channel.


Sex, Work and Social Justice. More 

CALL FOR CONTRIBUTION: Queer Sarajevo Festival
24th - 28th September 2008
Association Q for promotion and protection of culture, identity and human rights of queer persons and Sarajevo Open Centre are announcing Call for Contribution of Art Works "Okreni Oqueer!" More

Note: For copyrights reasons, we are sometimes unable to place the full text of the selected article on the SWAN-HCLU website. Instead, we are providing a link to the news source, for which we do not know how long it will be active. We apologize in advance for possible inconveniences. Some headlines are edited.


The Guardian, UK
'It's abuse and a life of hell'
As a world expert on prostitution, Roger Matthews has met women in the trade who have been stabbed, raped and beaten. He tells Julie Bindel why they must be given help to leave the sex industry for good. More

The Age, Australia
Students turn to sex work to help pay for university
March 2, 2008 -- Hundreads of university students in Victoria have turned to prostitution to pay their way through higher education, The Sunday Age has learnt. More

ChristianToday, UK
Sex workers need help from Christians – group
London, February 26, 2008 -- A Christian outreach for sex workers has told of its struggle to support women on the streets of London in a bid to raise awareness among the Christian community of the plight of sex workers in the capital. More

Commonwealth Times, USA
William and Mary president's resignation sparks controversy
Ferbuary 25, 2008 -- The recent resignation of College of William and Mary President Gene R. Nichol has sparked controversy across Virginia. During his term, Nichol attracted criticism when he removed a permanent cross display from the university's historic Wren Chapel and, most recently, when he allowed student-sponsored performances of the Sex Workers' Art Show on campus. More

Deutsche Welle Tajik Program, Tajikistan
Tajikistan to criminalise sex work
February 4, 2008 -- Prostitution in Tajikistan can become a criminal offence. This is the initiaitve of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic which is planning to submit a project on reforming Criminal Code to the Government. More

Reuters, USA
Bishop backs brothel regulation
LONDON, November 8, 2007 -- A Roman Catholic bishop in the southern English port city of Portsmouth is backing a campaign to legalize brothels without in any way condoning them. ... His comments won praise from Rachel Frost, from the International Union for Sex Workers. More

Mexican ex-prostitutes find home
Retirement home for prostitutes, probably first in the world, opens in Mexico City. More

Penguins are turning to prostitution
Penguins are turning to prostitution. But instead of doing it for money, Antarctic dolly-birds are turning tricks to get rocks off their menfolk. More

DPA, Germany
Madrid installs video cameras to combat prostitution
February 26, 2008 -- The Spanish capital Madrid has installed video cameras to combat prostitution in the city centre, press reports said Tuesday. More


Dear readers,
The list of SWAN News subscribers is getting bigger by the day. Please let us know if you receive the News regularly (we hope we are not discarded as spam by your computer email filter?) and give us suggestions for improvement. If you have news or stories on the sex work issues that you think are interesting and/or relevant for the advocates and policy makers who receive the SWAN News, please send them to us. We will carefully read and seriously consider publishing them. Our email address is sexwork@tasz.hu

Thank you.
The Editor

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About us
SWAN newsletter is the voice of the Sex Workers Rights Advocacy Network, a network of civil society organizations engaged in advocating the Human Rights of the sex workers in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. More

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