Every year on 1st December the world marks World AIDS Day. Globally sex workers are disproportionately affected by HIV, with UNAIDS estimating prevalence among sex workers as twelve times greater than the general population. This year, SWAN (Sex Workers' Rights Advocacy Network) together with ICRSE (International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe) issued a joint statement for World AIDS Day, and SWAN members marked the day with various different events.
Regional updates: Europe
In their concluding observations to Russia’s sixth periodic review produced on 6 October 2017, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) recommended that Russia decriminalise sex work. This recommendation was the result of advocacy by NSWP member Silver Rose, a sex worker organisation in St. Petersburg.
On 27 - 29 June 2017, NSWP members All-Ukrainian Charitable Organization Legalife-Ukraine and Tais Plus (Kyrgyzstan) took part in a meeting of sex worker-led organisations in Amsterdam. The meeting was organised by Aidsfonds. Sex workers from 11 countries attended, including participants from Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa, Nigeria, Myanmar and the Netherlands.
On 25 May, 2017, NSWP members Red Umbrella Athens (Greece) and Hellenic Association of People Living with HIV “Positive Voice” organised a conference on policy issues regarding sex work in Greece. It was very successful. It was the first time this topic was discussed by representatives from the government, political parties, civil society, sex workers and the scientific community.
The Global Fund is leaving Macedonia this year in June. It means that most of the services will be closed or reduced to a minimum if the government does not provide financial support. NSWP member Healthy Options Project Skopje (HOPS) started a campaign for securing sustainability of harm reduction programmes in Macedonia through various activities including a petition, meetings with Ministry of Health, press conferences, social media campaign, a video. The key focus is harm reduction programmes for people who use drugs, but they also include sex workers, MSM, and PLWHA.
Three men who attacked Kemal Ördek (LGBTI activist and Chair of Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association) were sentenced to 7 years and 6 months imprisonment for attempted robbery.
In order to improve working conditions of sex workers, the Amsterdam mayor opened a brothel that is supposed to be managed by sex workers. The new brothel, called My Red Light, occupies 14 “windows” across four buildings in Amsterdam’s red light district. About 40 sex workers will be able to operate out of the premises, which are being run by a foundation called My Red Light.
According to the Hungarian legislation on misdemeanor offenses, it is prohibited to arrest someone if this means their underage children will be left without a legal guardian. Despite this regulation, SZEXE, the Hungarian sex worker organisation, reports that there are many sex workers who get drawn into a misdemeanor proceeding and are held in detention for 72 hours before their trial. While they are in detention, their children do not have a legal guardian.
On 8 April 2017 in Paris, sex workers protested the new law that criminalises clients, marking the 1-year anniversary of the introduction of the law.
SWAN members marked the International Sex Workers’ Rights Day on 3 March and the International Women's’ Day on 8 March.