Organizers of The First Sex Workers March, held on 3 March in Kyiv, officially sent their draft law to the Chairman of the Supreme Council, President and Prime Minister of Ukraine calling to immediately abolish the administrative responsibility stipulated in art. 181-1 of the Code of Administrative Offences of Ukraine (for prostitution) on the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017.
In the official letters, which have been sent today to all the three government bodies on behalf of the first national union of sex workers – All-Ukrainian League “Legalife” – and Alliance for Public Health, it is stated that the threat of administrative prosecution is traditionally used by criminal mobs and corrupt law enforcers as a method of psychological pressure on sex workers, which often leads to mental and physical abuse.
Due to artificial criminalization and high level of stigma and discrimination, sex workers (their number in Ukraine being over 80 thousand according to the estimated data) are not able to effectively protect their rights. In this situation, sex workers do not have adequate access to reproductive health services as well as prevention and treatment of HIV and other dangerous diseases.
Authors of the initiative are concerned with the fact that on the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 which will be held in Kyiv and will be attended by tens of thousands of tourists, in particular from the EU countries, in most of which individual prostitution has been long ago decriminalized, the level of violence and inadequate treatment of sex workers from the side of public authorities and law enforcement agencies will expectedly increase as they will be trying to maximally “clean up” the capital city from “unwanted elements” as it traditionally occurred on the eve of EURO 2012, Eurovison 2005 and other similar events.
Organizers of The First Sex Workers March are confident that cancelling administrative responsibility for individual prostitution on the eve of Eurovision 2017 should become a powerful signal for the European community, which will confirm adherence of our country to the European values, in particular in terms of human rights protection in Ukraine. Such a measured and decisive step towards abolition of vestiges of the totalitarian past will allow bringing out of the circle of marginalization at least 80 thousand Ukrainian citizens, mostly women who earn their living with this hard work!
On 3 March 2017, All-Ukrainian League “Legalife” and the Alliance for Public Health with support of civil society organizations and with participation of human rights activists and mass media held the first Sex Workers March in the history of independent Ukraine along the route: Supreme Council – Cabinet of Ministers – Administration of the President of Ukraine. The main goal of the event was to draw attention of high government officials, general public and mass media to the need to abolish administrative responsibility for prostitution (art. 181-1 of the Code of Administrative Offences). Before the event, initiators for the first time presented their version of the proposed draft law, which today has been sent to relevant legislative bodies with official letters.
More information about the event can be found in media review of the Sex Workers March.
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