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What is the cost of legal reform for Ukrainian sex workers?

By Aliya Rakhmetova
Beginning of November 2011, Ukrainian Verhovnaya Rada (a supreme body similar to Parliament) reviewed a bill on changing the legislation around ‘prostitution’. In the background note, Mogilev, the Minister of Interior, writes that the reason for the reform is the fact that existing legislation is not working (news article link http://cripo.com.ua/index.php?sect_id=10&aid=125635 ).

According to the authors of the bill, right now only city administrative committees (within city executive body) can deal with these cases, the village committees are not authorized to take the case. Since the cases should be addressed by the executive bodies in the location where the person is officially registered, most of cases on individual sex work remain unaddressed because most of fined sex workers come from smaller towns and villages.

As reported in previous article in SWAN News (http://swannet.org/node/2050), the Minister suggested to delegate the whole procedure of making a decision to the local offices of Interior so that they can deal with the case in the presence of perpetrator. In addition, the bill suggests to make the penalties for individual sex work stricter than before. If now the punishment for the offence can be only a warning, the new bill will make it obligatory to pay a high fine. According to a representative from Legalife, the new fines would amount to a 5-7 day earning amount of an average street worker.

The update
Same month November, the Verhovnaya Rada and the expert committee considered the bill and returned it for further development with some critical remarks and suggestions for change. Like previous similar bills submitted in 2007 and 2008, the bill does not address the process of collecting the payment, but instead distorts the process of ‘prevention from prostitution’ through existing fines. The Vrhovnaya Rada acknowledged that allowing one and the same agency to file the offence and to ensure that the fine is paid will open doors to corruption, especially that there doesn’t seem to be a clear definition of ‘prostitution’ for police to make a judgment (read in Ukrainian http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb_n/webproc34?id=&pf3511=41684&pf35401=2..., http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb_n/webproc34?id=&pf3511=41684&pf35401=2... )

While the bill is in its revision stage, SWAN and Legalife decided to gather national and international support around this issue and to collect signatures under their open letter to the President of Ukraine.

For clarifications contact Legalife or SWAN write to swan@swannet.org
To Sign SWAN Open Letter to support Ukrainian sex workers visit: