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National Sex Workers Network Established in Ukraine

One of the key issues discussed was legalization of prostitution in Ukraine. The participants agreed legalization would help sex workers’ social and legal protection and would provide an opportunity to improve their health.

During the meeting it became clear that, although every region has its own specifics, the main problems sex workers face are very similar: present is universal exploitation and violation of sex workers’ human rights, through the ways more or less radical.

For instance in Crimea sex workers are systematically abused by the police:

“I am anyway paying to the cops so that I could work freely. I would rather pay the state. Then at least my work would count as work experience, I would be socially protected, and the police would have to protect me as a taxpayer” - says a participant from Kharkov.

“Sex workers are neither commodity, nor anybody’s slaves. We offer what we have got from the nature. It is more ethical than selling bad-quality goods in beautiful packaging, practiced by shops everywhere. Sex workers offer clients pleasure for a price. Prostitution is the oldest profession. But in Ukraine it seems it fits everyone better to exploit sex workers than to give them freedom and opportunity to earn for their living. There are so many agents, pimps and other “parasites” – in police uniform or without – who stick to sex workers to gain profits at sex workers’ expense” - said another participant from Ivano-Frankovsk.

“The police often confiscate our documents and valuables, physicians refuse to provide us services, gangs take away our money and beat us up. There is nobody to turn to for help” - a representative from Chernovtsy described situation in her region.

Present at the meeting were sex workers from Vinnica, Dnepropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankovsk, Kirovograd, Lugansk, Lvov, Nikolayev, Odessa, Simferopol, Harkov, Herson, Chernigov, Chernovtsy and Kiev. They hope the new network may become that protecting force, which will enable sex workers to have adequate position in the Ukrainian society.

Says Alexandr Ostapov, the Director of the All-Ukrainian Harm Reduction Association: “We will to do our best to support the network at its initial phase of development. But it will be able to gain momentum only if sex workers themselves take active participation in its development, advocacy efforts, promotion of their ideas and recruitment of the new members. Everything is in the hands of those men and women who came to Kiev to participate in the founding meeting and committed themselves to responsibilities. They have to believe in heir own power and fight for the better future”.

Contact person: Alexandr Ostapov, All-Ukrainian Harm Reduction Association
E-mail: harm_red@ukr.net
About All-Ukrainian Harm Reduction Association
Website: www.uhra.org.ua