HOPS (Healthy Options Project Skopje)

Location

Skopje
Macedonia
Contact email: 
voskren@hops.org.mk
Who do you work with?: 
HOPS provides direct health, social and legal services to female, male and transgender sex workers, clients, partners, families and children of sex workers. HOPS also works on sensitisation of professionals and media round sex workers issues and advocates for the human rights of sex workers on local, national and regional level.
How are sex workers involved in your organisation?: 
Sex workers are involved in development and implementation of activities and services within HOPS. Sex workers have paid positions as outreach workers, peer educators, cultural mediators, gate keepers, leader of workshops, assistants of drop-in centres, screeners and interviewers for studies, panellist/educators in panel discussions/workshops with different stakeholders (social workers, police, media).
Which of NSWP priority areas does your organisation work on?: 
Advocate for universal access to health services, including primary health care, HIV and sexual and reproductive health services
Speak out about violence against sex workers, including violence from police, institutions, clients, and intimate partners, while challenging the myth that sex work is inherently gender-based violence
Oppose human rights abuses, including coercive programming, mandatory testing, raids and forced rehabilitation
Challenge stigma and discrimination against sex workers, their families and partners, and others involved in sex work
Advocate for the economic empowerment and social inclusion of sex workers as sex workers
What are the two main challenges that the sex workers you work with face: 
Main challenges for sex workers in Macedonia are discrimination and violence. Even although sex work is regulated as misdemeanour, the public treats it as criminal or a very immoral act and consequently punishes sex workers on various levels. Public institutions and MOI don’t make a difference between sex work and exploitation of sex work so they act towards eliminating prostitution instead of eliminating exploitation of sex workers. These acts undermine the dignity and rights of sex workers.
Describe other areas of your work: 
HOPS also works in the field of harm reduction and human rights of drug users and their families. Core activities include needle exchange programmes, comprehensive health, psychological and legal services for drug users, education, research documentation and advocacy for humane and effective drug policies.