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Kazakhstan: Letter from abroad: peace, work and sex!

International Contacts
Peace! Work! Sex!

Last couple of years Ukraine is viewed exceptionally as a source of “orange revolution” threat on the post soviet territory. Soon brothers-Ukrainians will take away the title of “cradle of three revolutions” from Leningrad-Petersburg, because Kiev became first of all former soviet republics who introduced a new revolutionary initiative, of sexual character – creation of Ukrainian Network on protection of sex workers’ rights. Why should it matter to us, those who live in Kazakstan? It does directly! Our local sex workers work not only on two notorious streets of our southern capital, but in all towns of the country as well, where there are saunas and other entertaining for big crowds. Svetlana Saduakasova, the head of social bureau “Kovcheg” represented this very focus group of our society was represented on behalf of Kazakhstan at the international meeting on human right of sex workers.

The training and the meeting took place in Kiev, a city which also hosted representatives from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Macedonia, Serbia, Canada, USA, the Netherlands, Kazakhstan and a several regions of Ukraine. The forum was organized by the Network of organizations advocating for the rights of sex workers “SWAN” – a young organization, created in spring of 2006, but which already spread its influence to Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and NIS. About the scale and level of SWAN’s activities one can judge by the fact that it is issuing a monthly newsletter, has developed contacts with international networks of sex workers, for instance ICRSE, the meetings address questions of media communication and effective use of Internet resources on websites.

In civilized and democratic Europe, where operate such organizations as OSCE, as it turned out the rights of those who work in sex business are violated. They are considered low class, similar to how they treat illegal immigrants from third world (most of those who practice “eurosex” are actually came to the Old World from these countries). The situation got worse to the point that in 2002 a group of progressive red light district dwellers in Amsterdam had to unite to stand for their rights in public. Sex workers united with advocates for human rights and started a large scale campaign from Paris to Warsaw. It shook the old lady Europe as had the phantom of communism in Marx’s time. It resulted in the Declaration of the Rights of Sex Workers of Europe, a document, developed by sex workers and international experts on human rights, which demonstrated that sex workers are also eligible to human rights. The Declaration was adopted at the European Conference on sex work, human rights and migration on October 16, 2005.

The participants of Kiev training realized that in every European country, even there where sex work is legalized, sex workers are still discriminated. In Greece they cannot marry, otherwise they loose their professional license; in Slovakia public health representatives refuse to provide them medical assistance and make discriminatory remarks to pregnant sex workers; in Great Britain posters with sex workers’ names and photos are posted around which is a violation of the right for private life. That is why the Declaration comprises 12 articles and 30 sub-articles, which contain reference to all human principles known to each of us and which are parts of Constitutions in many countries: right to life, liberty and security of person, right to an effective remedy, right to liberty f movement and residence, the right to organise, to freedom of association and to form and join a union, and many more rights. SWAN experts developed ethical guidelines for media which works on sex work issues. It contains 13 points which journalists should keep in mind. For instance not to hunt for sensations; cultivate advocacy journalism, similar to the coverage of South African apartheid issue in the 80s, avoid stereotypes (sex work is not rafficking and it is not women’s exploitation; sex workers are not victims); watch the language of the report, avoiding such words as “innocent”, “victim”, “guilty”, “random”, “whore” and not to call sex workers with word “prostitute”.

Svetlana Saduakassova says that SWAN activists have their own vision of the situation: it is just business, it is a social phenomenon. One of the main principles of the Network reads: “Sex work is unforced sale of sexual services for money or goods between consenting adults. Sex work includes street prostitution, escort services, telephone sex services, pornography, exotic dancing and others. “ There is one more interesting point: “All regional and local regulations targeting sex workers to prosecute the practice of their trade should be repealed. “

For night fairies of Taldykorgan, Kazakhstan, their night shifts in saunas and rented flans are first of all business. It rather has nothing to do with high ideals of European Declaration: there is need to buy clothes, financially help one’s poor family, pay for “protection”, pay rent. The employees of social bureau “Kovcheg” say, local sex workers are illiterate in terms of legal issues, some of them haven’t even finished 9 classes, all are distressed by financial problems, but they approve of the idea of legalizing prostitution, the idea spoken up by the Ukrainians. Call girls believe that the legalization will allow them earn money exclusively for themselves and to earn more.

Meanwhile the Ukrainians keep shaking NIS with their revolutionary approaches to sexual relations. At the seminar in Kiev an interesting fact was mentioned by the experts: due to financial problems, every fourth man in Ukraine regularly practices sex work, and not with rich ladies, but with same sex. Citizens of this country also actively joined the movement to protect the rights of sex workers. Different NGOs finance independent media agencies, such as newspapers “Motylek”, “Ne Uletai”, “Plus-Minus” and magazine “Podorozhnik” in order to influence the formation of public opinion. These releases cover AIDS, drug issues, morals and culture. The publications are burning, well argumented and aimed at developing further the discussions among their readers. Network activists insist on legalization on prostitution, because they believe that this business will make economy healthier, will stop spread of STIs, will reduce threat of AIDS and will solve criminal issues in countries. The mission of Social Bureau “Kovcheg” coincides with articles in the Declaration in regard to STI and HIV/AIDS prevention, provision of guaranteed medical assistance, right to work, freedom to choose occupation, right to just and favourable conditions of work.

A. Sklabovskii