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.

Regional Networks

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.

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RUS: Чтобы прочитать эту статью на русском языке, пожалуйста, нажмите здесь.

(с благодарностью SWAN)

Further to the news story earlier this month is the offical statement from Tais Plus:

In October 2012 the Ministry of the Interior of Kyrgyzstan initiated a new draft bill to introduce an administrative offence for sex work.

Tais Plus with numerous allies – organisations and individuals – implemented a wide advocacy campaign to stop this initiative of the Ministry of the Interior. Financial support was provided by Urgent Action Fund. Bishkek Feminist Collective SQ provided incredible promotion of all our efforts against the new draft bill.

We mobilised sex workers, allies and organisations actively involved in sex work issues across the country. Public hearings with participation from civil society, government representatives and sex workers took place in 6 cities – in almost all regional centres.

The Petition calling to stop the draft bill was signed by more 1000 people via online and personal communication on the streets.  Face-to-face communication with parliament members and staff of the Ministry of the Interior took place during the official meeting of the Parliament Committee responsible for reviewing this draft bill.

Unbelievable support from Human Rights Watch and a consortium of international women and sex workers leadership organisations allowed us to show the people making the decision that our country and our issue is of concern to international human rights defenders.

Finally in February 2013 mass media posted the official news about withdrawing the draft bill on the punishment of sex work on Kyrgyzstan.

Thank you to all our supporters. It is not possible to make full list of them all here.

28th February 2013 by NSWP

RUS: Чтобы прочитать эту статью на русском языке, пожалуйста, нажмите здесь.

(с благодарностью SWAN)

The Association of Hungarian Sex Workers (SZEXE) recently launched their advocacy film on the situtation for sex workers in Hungary.

 

SZEXE produced the video jointly with the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) to attempt to give an overview of Hungarian sex workers' situation and come up with recommendations for addressing the problems.The video was first presented on a press event on 17 December 2012 in Budapest. Support for this project was provided by Mama Cash.

22nd February 2013 by NSWP

The media in Kyrgyzstan has published an announcement by Dastan Bekeshev, the Parliament Deputy that the Kyrgyz Government have withdrawn their Draft Bill on administrative punishments for sex work. 

Read the report (In Russian) at 24kg.org.

Tais Plus campaigned heavily against this initiative, as we reported in October here.

This is the second time Tais Plus' advocacy efforts have been successul after similar attempts in 2006 to criminalise sex work were also stopped.

22nd February 2013 by NSWP

This is the 3rd edition of the STRASS newsletter, packed with details of their recent and forthcoming activism events in France as well as a round up of other European news realting to sex work.

4th February 2013 by NSWP

Members of STRASS and other activists organised a demonstration on Friday 26th October, outside the Courthouse in Toulouse, France to protest against the proposals being brought forward to criminalise clients of sex workers and the crime of solicitation.

The event, held during the National Congress of the Socialist Party was part of ongoing action in the face of the plans of the French Minister for Women's Rights. 

The activists oppose the proposals and denounced the disastrous consequences they will cause including more violence, more infections and fewer rights.  They also released a list of demands which included that sex workers are actually consulted and involved in public policies that affect them and the repeal of the offence of soliciting and all laws that criminalise sex workers.

You can read more including the full list of demands (In French) in the press release below.

27th October 2012 by NSWP

The Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kyrgyzstan announced recently week that they intend to criminalise sex workers. 

The MIA prepared the draft of the law “On amendments to the Administrative Code of the Kyrgyz Republic”. The justification for these amendments are that 'prostitution is anti-social, directly linked to the spread of STIs, including HIV as well as spreading drug addiction and alcoholism'. The prospective punishment could be a fine or as much as 30 days in prison.

Tais Plus, along with partner organisations and rights defenders are campaigning against this initiative. 

Their activities include:

- Conducting public hearings in all regions of the country with the participation of sex workers, their allies and main stakeholders from the government

- Using the in-country consultation meeting devoted to the preparation to the Regional Consultation on HIV and Sex Work (5-6 of November 2012)

- Sex workers will develop and sign a petition to the MIA, Parliament & Ombudsman's Office

- Presenting and disseminating a report on sex workers' human rights violations

You can read more on this story (in Russian) here and here.

24th October 2012 by NSWP

Two countries in the United Kingdom  - Scotland and Northern Ireland - are currently consulting on proposals to introduce legislation to criminalise the purchase of sex.

In Scotland, Rhoda Grant MSP (Labour) has launched a public consultation on her proposal for her private members bill, 'Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex (Scotland) Bill'.  The public consultation runs until 14th December.  You can download her consultation document on the Scottish Parliament's website here.  NSWP member organisation SCOT-PEP have been campaigning vigorously against the proposals and there will be updates on their website relating to the consultation as it progresses.

In Northern Ireland, Lord (Maurice) Morrow MLA (Democratic Unionist Party) has a consultation running until 18th October on his draft Human Trafficking & Exploitation (Further Provisions & Support for Victims) Bill which he has already drafted.  His Bill includes a range of measures aimed at tackling trafficking, but most disturbingly also includes the 'introduction of a new offence of paying for the sexual services of a prostitute'More information and the consultation paper can be found on the Northern Ireland Assembly website here.

18th September 2012 by NSWP

Georgina Perry, service manager at Open Doors, a sex worker outreach service in East London has written an extensive article reproduced on The Trafficking Research Project's blog outlining her experience of the Olympics. 

Georgina writes powerfully about the damage done by the draconian anti-trafficking measures taken by the authorities, how this led to mass raids, the closure of many brothels and the destruction of relationships between services and sex workers which took years to build up. 

In summarising Georgina says:

'I’d say that we are currently picking up the pieces, and that it is going to take us a long time to restore sex worker faith in institutional support. Where once the relationship between sex worker services and clients was good, it is now broken. We are now viewed with suspicion as ‘do-gooders or enforcers’. Where once sex workers may have felt it possible to report crimes against them to the police, there is now a dangerous and distrustful environment in London with crimes going unreported for fear of unwanted repercussions.'

'The brothel closures that were deemed so important to the success of anti-trafficking measures in London have little impact when most women trafficked for sexual exploitation are sold through closed community networks and never end up in the brothels where the majority of sex work is conducted. This information is readily available, and has been for some years, and yet, like all evidence surrounding this episode, was resolutely ignored because it did not fit the inherent anti-prostitution agenda.'

Read Georgina's full article here.

18th September 2012 by NSWP

Writing in 'Le Nouvel Observateur', a group of artists, academics and writers in France have suggested that the French Government's plan to eradicate prostitution is bound to fail. 

Responding to French Minister for Women, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem's recent outbursts the group say that talk of "abolishing" prostitution was based on "two debatable assumptions: that charging for sex is an affront to women's dignity and that all prostitutes are all victims of their bastard clients."

Furthermore they argues that 'criminalising clients will only force prostitution even more underground, making the women involved more vulnerable to exploitation.'

Read more here.

23rd August 2012 by NSWP

French sex workers and allies, including Act Up and STRASS have demonstrated in both Lyon and Paris this weekend against French minister for women's rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem's plans for the 'elimination of prostitution' and call for measures to be introduced to criminalise clients.

8th July 2012 by NSWP