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Ukraine: Mayor of Kiev orders establishment of professional association for sex workers

On December 20 the city mayor of Kiev Leonid Chernoveckiy stated in a popular TV show that human rights of Ukrainian prostitutes are routinely violated: they pay kickbacks to the police, gangsters and MPs; they are mistreated, beaten, and raped. So, he said, a trade union of prostitutes should be established to protect their rights and give them moral and legal support.

Freedom is a rather popular weekly debate show aired in evening prime time, live from the studio of the Ukrainian TV station Inter. Every broadcast is hosted by different public personality who decides on the theme of the show.

On December 20, 2008 the host was the city mayor of Kiev Leonid Chernoveckiy, in the posh Kiev circles often referred to as “Space Lena” ("Леня - космос") because of his weird statements and inadequate body language. The main topic were corruption and human rights.

A number of high-level city and state politicians were in the studio, as well as two former sex workers, who spoke about the problems their colleagues face in daily work and life.

The issue of legalization was raised. “Should we legalize prostitution in Ukraine?” asked Chernoveckiy the audience, which voted 40% yes, 60% no.
“Prostitutes pay kickbacks to the police, gangsters and MPs” said then Chernoveckiy. “250,000 prostitutes work in horrible conditions. They are mistreated, beaten, raped. I think that a trade union for prostitutes should be established. The organization would help members protect their rights: to get health services, contraception, moral and legal support. If you support that, I will tomorrow establish in Kiev the first trade union for prostitutes.”

Since the majority of the audience supported the idea, Chernoveckiy turned to his deputy who was also present in the studio: “Officially, I give an order to my deputy to establish in Kiev a trade union for prostitutes.”

The Cernovickiy’s statements received outstanding coverage in the Ukrainian media.

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