Regional updates: Europe
Across the Central and Eastern European region, several workshops have been held within the last month, focusing on STI prevention, human rights and sex worker activism, and highlighting the need for sex worker involvement in programmes and projects established on their behalf.
The Swiss government has said that it is opposed to any new measures that would criminalise prostitution or the purchase of commercial services.
Despite the recent failure of a previous attempt, a new campaign has launched in Scotland that hopes to criminalise the purchase of commercial sexual services. The “End Prostitution Now” campaign wants to put pressure on the Scottish Government to end demand, which they describe as the "root cause" of the country's "commercial sexual exploitation". They plan to utilise social media campaigns and to urge people to write to their representatives to ask them to support the proposal.
Sex workers have been assembling in several manifestations in Paris and across France to protest the proposed criminalisation of their clients.
In the UK, a new programme has begun offering sex workers retraining for different forms of employment. Run by the HIV and sexual health charity, Terrence Higgins Trust, the Sex Workers and New Ambitions Project (SNAP) offers “support and training to achieve your employment goals alongside or outside of sex working”. Participants receive one-to-one mentoring, professional skills coaching, CV and job search advice and, if they want, support into volunteering and work experience.
From 1st June, 2015 a new law in Northern Ireland criminalising the purchase of sex will come into effect. This will make Northern Ireland the only region of the United Kingdom to adopt the Nordic model, after a similar bill failed to pass in Scotland in 2013.
Turkish advocates have been calling for recognition of a spate of violence against trans women in the country. Over the space of two weeks, seven trans women were violently attacked in different cities around Turkey. On the 2nd of May four trans women were reported to have been attacked, including a trans sex worker named Gülşen who was stabbed in her home in Şişli by two men with a knife and skewer. Reports say that the men were known to her as previous clients.
Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring project (TMM) has just published a report in advance of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), which will be marked on the 17th of May 2015. The report details a total of 1,731 cases of reported killings of trans and gender-diverse people from January 1st 2008 to December 31st 2014 in all regions of the world. Analysis of the data shows that 65 percent of all murdered trans and gender-diverse people (whose profession was known) were sex workers.