SZEXE is an organisation that works to protect the interests of sex workers in Hungary. As well as offering direct services to sex workers SZEXE also conducts campaigning and advocacy work to advance sex worker rights. On July 1st in Budapest the organisation hosted a conference called ‘Nothing about Us without Us!’. This conference brought together many different people including journalists, politicians, civil society organisations and academics. But most importantly this conference was about amplifying the voices of sex workers. It provided an opportunity for sex workers to talk about their lives and share their views on how the current laws and practices in Hungary affect them. It was also a chance for sex workers to properly express their views on the recent moves in the European Parliament to promote the Swedish model of criminalising the clients of sex workers. This conference took the brave step of inviting ogranisations who are in favour of the Swedish model and who support the European Women’s Lobby campaign for a Europe Free from Prostitution. Sex workers were given the chance to directly address these people and share the realities of their lives and explain why the Swedish model is such a harmful approach to sex work.
The event opened with an exhibition that featured photographic portraits of sex workers’ and their short stories of what inspires them in life, what gives them strength and makes them happy. This exhibition highlighted the diverse lives of sex workers in Hungary and put human faces to the debate. The photo exhibition and sex workers’ stories can be viewed here