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ICRSE greets establishment of the Ukrainian network of sex workers

To the sex workers in the Ukraine and their allies at The All-Ukrainian Harm Reduction Association (UHRA),

On behalf of the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) I would like to congratulate you for taking up the challenge to support each other, celebrate your strength and work together towards gaining recognition for the rights of sex workers in the Ukraine. I hope that in the future you will become an unstoppable force! The ICRSE will do all we can to support you!

You are not alone! All around the world sex workers are coming together; we are gaining global strength and a united voice and we are saying we will not accept discrimination and social isolation any longer!

The ICRSE is a network that includes individual sex workers, sex worker organisation and ally organisations across Europe. We started as a small group of sex workers and allies based in the Netherlands in 2003 so we are still young. The main goals of

main goals of the ICRSE are to bring Sex Workers and their allies together on an international level:
• to further the social acceptance and respect for sex workers
• to guarantee their civil rights
• to organise the support of allies

Our first great achievement was to organise a conference in Brussels Belgium where we brought 120 sex workers and 80 allies together to work on 2 important documents; The Declaration on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe and the Sex Workers in Europe Manifesto. Sex workers made the major contribution to these documents and both were presented at the European Parliament. Yes that is right; on October 17 2005 sex workers stood up in the European Parliament and made our voices heard! Thanks to the work of SWAN members these documents have already been translated into many languages of your region.

Now the ICRSE Network includes sex workers and ally members from over 26 European countries and we hope to grow together over the coming years. As a network we support each other. Sometimes that may mean adding our names to a petition against a bad law or policy in a country or we might come together for a meeting to talk about how to deal with police violence. Much of our work involves keeping everyone informed about what is going on so that we can share ideas or problems and gain strength from the achievements of our colleagues.

Like you, many members of the ICRSE network, including myself, either work or have worked in the sex industry. It is not easy to stand up and stare the world in the face and demand to be respected. It is sometimes not easy at work and it is also not easy in political work but as more of us do this it makes it impossible for society to continue to get away with disrespecting us and the people we love. Take your time, find your strength and be proud of each step you take!


Petra Timmermans