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Debate on Legalization of Prostitution in Kyrgyzstan

One recent event where such voices were heard was a round table on the issues of prostitution organized in Bishkek on April 8, 2008. Among the participants of the event organized by the Women’s Discussion Club were Kenesh Kulikova, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Tursunbek Akun, Ombudsman of Kyrgyzstan, representatives of OSCE, of Ministry of Internal Affairs and sex workers of Bishkek. Prior to the meeting the organizers shot videos in which they interviewed sex workers about frequent illegal police raids.

Many voices were heard at the round table that opposed, as well as those that supported legalization of prostitution. And while it will take some time to decide on the future action and policies towards this issue that is controversial not only in Kyrgyzstan, the event was a big step forward for it tackled the issue in a serious way, with high-level participants, and resulted in significant media coverage, opening a wider debate in the society.

Violence against sex workers, fueled by stigma and criminalization of prostitution was one of the arguments used by the proponents of legalization. A very fresh example was mentioned, of a pregnant sex worker recently raped by cadets of a police school. Although scared for her safety, she nevertheless decided - with support from Tais Plus, SWAN member from Kyrgyzstan - to report the case to the police.