Legalife Ukraine and Tais Plus participate in Global Meeting in Amsterdam

European Regional Correspondent

On 27 - 29 June 2017, NSWP members All-Ukrainian Charitable Organization Legalife-Ukraine and Tais Plus (Kyrgyzstan) took part in a meeting of sex worker-led organisations in Amsterdam. The meeting was organised by Aidsfonds. Sex workers from 11 countries attended, including participants from Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa, Nigeria, Myanmar and the Netherlands.

NSWP and the Red Umbrella Fund also participated in the meeting.

All the organisations are part of Bringing The Gaps and PITCH for community mobilisation in their countries.

The meeting was dedicated to the development of monitoring and evaluation approaches. For most participants, this was the first opportunity to meet and to share their experiences.

Representatives of Legalife-Ukraine told the groups about their successes. They told everyone they have established themselves in 8 regions of Ukraine and plan to register their branches officially. They have empowered sex workers to report crimes, and taught sex workers how to work with the Human Rights Department of the National Police.  

Two representatives of Tais Plus took part in the meeting. They shared their experience in mobilising the community. "Our organizsation is constantly making efforts to mobilise the community, but with the support of BtG we began to do this regularly," said a representative from Tais Plus. After dividing in groups, the participants performed a variety of tasks: discussing and developing methods, creating general messages from the community for the HIV/AIDS conference that will take place in Amsterdam next year, and planned common activities.

A separate meeting was held with representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the municipality. "It was not a formal meeting. They asked many questions, they really wanted to know how things are in our countries, what problems sex workers face, how, in our opinion, the government treats problems related to sex work," said Natalia Dorofeeva, information manager of Legalife-Ukraine.

All the participants of the meeting were united by a common problem: the creation of safe working conditions. "The participants explained that more and more sex workers are going to the Internet because of the police harassment. We were shocked by the stories of colleagues from Africa - the cruelty and violence of the police against sex workers looks monstrous," said Natalia Isaiieva, the director of Legalife-Ukraine.

"Especially memorable was the session, which was held by Misha from PROUD, in the Netherlands. She was explaining what to do in case you are interrogated by the police. She showed 10 Manipulation Tools - how the police manipulate the detainees during the interrogation. Then Misha asked the volunteers to play a role-play on how the police interrogate a sex worker, while using these 10 Manipulation Tools. While participants play the scene, the other participants had to guess which of the ten Tools was used during the interrogation. Role-play was very interesting: a participant from Nigeria was a policeman, and she showed how the police treat sex workers in their country and how the interrogation is conducted. Judging by the role setting, they have a very difficult situation in the country, she showed how they are beaten and raped.

Another memorable session was a session conducted by a representative of KESWA on the experience of building a network in Kenya. She was so enthusiastic about this process, it was clear how difficult it was and how much effort was invested. Today KESWA consists of 64 members - groups of sex workers from different regions of the country,” shared a representative from Tais Plus.