Sex workers in Scotland, led by sex work organisation SCOT-PEP have successfully mobilised to get Edinburgh City Council to reject police calls to start treating condoms as evidence of sex work. This rejection of the police policy represents a triumph for harm reduction, common-sense, and sex worker-organising.
Regional updates: Europe
Our members are listed on the left or you can click the red umbrellas on the map.
Regional Board Members
Nataliia Isaieva (Legalife-Ukraine), Ukraine.
Dinah de Riquet-Bons (STRASS), France.
The International Committee for the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) is a European network of sex workers and allies across Europe and Central Asia. It was formed in 2004 to organise the 2005 European Conference on Sex Work, Human Rights, Labour and Migration and is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network for Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (SWAN) is a network of sex workers' groups and civil society. SWAN started in 2006 as a project within Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU/TASZ) and became an independent organisation in 2012 and is based in Budapest, Hungary.
News articles from Europe region are listed below.
Sex workers in London are mobilising in defense of the traditional red light area, Soho, which is under threat from gentrification and developers. Sex workers are being specifically targeted for eviction, despite the fact that their long-standing presence has been crucial to the area's sexy, cosmopolitan character and reputation, and thus part of what has made it attractive to developers at all.
The first ever wide-scale survey of indoor sex workers in Ireland has revealed a far more complex picture of who does sex work, and why, than is commonly portrayed in the Irish media, which is dominated by claims from anti-sex worker organisations - with links to the Catholic Church and the notorious Magdalene laundries.
Sex workers of all genders and from all sectors of the industry gathered in Paris in early June to hold a national conference, organised by STRASS, in which they discussed their rights, safety, and community organising.
Sex workers in Scotland, and sex worker-led organisation SCOT-PEP condemned the front page exposure of a sex worker in yesterday's Scottish Sun.
'Ugly Mugs' schemes have been in many parts of the world, as a tool to warn sex workers about violent people posing as clients - but until now, there have been no such projects formally set up in Ireland, as the Irish state - influenced by various anti-sex work organisations - has never felt the need to aid sex workers in making the job safer.
Human Rights Watch released a report on July 4,condemning the use of mandatory health examinations, isolation, and compulsory treatment in Greece, which has been reinstated into law on July 26, upon reappointment of Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis.
Health Regulation No. GY/39A, “Amendments that Concern the Restriction of Transmission of Infectious Diseases,” permits police to detain people without due process for the testing of HIV and other diseases of public health importance, focusing on certain priority groups, including anyone suspected of being a sex worker, intravenous drug users, undocumented migrants, and anyone living without “minimum standards” of hygiene, such as the homeless.
Since the bill was first introduced in April 2012, until April of this year when it was temporarily repealed, dozens of women suspected of being sex workers were forced to take HIV tests. When found positive, they were charged with the felony of “intentional grievous bodily harm,” or “attempted bodily harm” for having unprotected sex with customers. The police and media published their photographs, HIV status, and personal information, and detained many of these women for months while they awaited trial. In March 2013, almost a full year after the crackdown, the last five of these women were acquitted by the courts, which found “no strong evidence” for charges of intentional harm.
NSWP condemns the recent decision by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) to cancel their agreement with Sex Worker Open University (SWOU) to provide a venue for the upcoming ‘Sex Workers’ Rights and Community Building Festival’.
The ‘Sex Workers’ Rights and Community Building Festival’ brings together sex workers and allies from across the world and has attracted worldwide attention and public interest. It provides opportunities for both sex workers and other experts to share ideas and experiences, organise for sex workers’ rights, and strategise around resisting harmful laws and policies. The decision to organise this festival in Scotland is extremely timely in light of recent attempts to criminalise those who purchase sexual services (known as the ‘Swedish Model’). This approach is one that has been criticised heavily by NSWP and our members as it negatively impacts upon the health and human rights of sex workers.
Sex work is recognised as informal labour by International Labour Organisation and sex workers are protected under ILO Recommendation 200. NSWP regrets and condemns the decision of STUC to take an approach to sex workers' rights that sits in contradiction to the recommendations of the ILO. This position is a clear dismissal of sex workers as deserving of trade union support and undermines their fundamental human right to organise and unionise.
In a statement the STUC claimed their decision was taken because the title of the event diametrically contradicts the STUC position – and yet the title of the event to have been held in the STUC building is ‘Looking at Laws and Policies that Impact on Sex Workers and Strategies for Resistance and Change.’, not as claimed “The Scottish Context: Opposing Criminalisation of Clients.”, which is the topic of one presentation by SCOT-PEP representing Scottish sex workers perspectives. The STUC decision clearly represents an attempt to stifle the voices of sex workers and evidence-based debate on the current discourse in Scotland and beyond. It should also be noted that the STUC did not refuse to host this event but cancelled the booking at very short notice after publicity materials had been produced and distributed, at significant cost to a poorly-resourced sex worker rights movement.
NSWP urge the STUC to review their position in relation to supporting sex workers to organise, rather than be part of the system that oppresses sex workers. Sex work is work and sex workers must be afforded the same labour rights as any other workers. Any political perspective or legal framework that refuses to acknowledge this violates the human rights of sex workers.
NSWP has received short term funding from the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund (RCNF) to support our regional networks in identifying and documenting good practice in sex worker led HIV programming; sex workers access to treatment and the impact of free trade agreements; and the impact of HIV programming for sex workers that fails to reflect a rights based approach.
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Friday, 12 April 2013 @ 24.00.
Press release by STRASS, French Union of Sex Workers, in English and French: on the continuing campaign to repeal the offence of soliciting.
Communiqué de presse en français suit ci-dessous.