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by Borce

In light of the International Day to end the violence against sex workers, the red umbrella was symbolically opened for the fourth time in the capital city of Macedonia. Sex workers and their supporters actively participated in the event organized by the Association for Support of Marginalized Workers STAR-STAR.

We chose the slogan “To be a sex worker is my right – to be a brute is a crime !” for the campaign. We printed two cards with the slogan, each with a different photograph aimed to deliver sex workers’ message to society.

Within the context of this year’s campaign the December edition of the “By Us To Us” newsletter was published by STAR-STAR. The newsletter was distributed in electronic format to the other programs dealing with sex workers’ rights throughout the country, who printed out the newsletter’s content in their offices and made sure it was distributed among sex workers in their cities. Furthermore, several workshops were held with sex workers in the HOPS Drop-in-Center.

During the day (December, 17), STAR-STAR members attended the party organized by HOPS in the sex workers’ drop-in-center. The attendees in the drop-in-center, then, headed for the Red Umbrella March which commenced a 19:00 h in the Skopje Open Scene, i.e. the street where the sex workers most commonly do their job. There were about 50 people attending and supporting the march, half of whom were sex workers. This is a positive sign indicating that STAR-STAR and HOPS have succeeded through their activities in raising sex workers’ awareness and emphasized the importance of their participation in events dealing with and tackling issues of their own interest.

The whole event was carried out in secure circumstances avoiding the media in order to protect the identity of sex workers who were actually at work during the march. Right after the march, all attendees were invited to a party in a bar located in the city center, the only goal of this endeavor being for sex workers and their supporters to gather and “stand under the same umbrella”.