sex workers
Sex workers demonstrate in front of Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev on March 3, 2017 © AFP Sergei SUPINSKY

By Rashidat Akashat with agency report

“Sex work is work” is the slogan as 50 activists and dozens of sex workers campaigned in Kiev on Friday, demanding the legalization of prostitution in Ukraine.

Advertise With Us

The goal of revoking a legal ban on sex work in the post-Soviet state was the aim of some activists clad in red plastic helmet and white plastic masks.

Holding red umbrellas, the protesters chanted their slogan adding “We stand for decriminalization of sex work” and “My work is my choice”.

‘Lift The Punishment For Sex Workers’

Yuliya Dorokhova of Legalife, a Ukrainian non-governmental organisation for sex workers said standing in front of the lawmakers building that “It is the first time that we have had the courage to come out and say that we exist,”

“We ask the authorities to lift the punishment for sex work. We would like to pay taxes rather than fines,” she added.

The human rights campaigners reported that, there are some 80, 000 sex workers in Ukraine who feel vulnerable, particularly to the police abuse, due to their profession being outside the law.

Being illegal in Ukraine, prostitution is punishable by a fine up to 255 hryvnias ($9/euros).

“We want our state to protect us. If a woman was able to sell sex legally, she would pay money to the state budget,” Dorokhova said.

“The women who work in existing brothels have to hand police their her earnings as ‘protection’ money,” she added.

The legal ban on prostitution in Ukraine has placed the prostitutes in a vulnerable position of bribing the police to avoid fines or even receive lashes from them.

“We often suffer from fines and even physical abuse (by the police),” sex worker Valya, 30, told AFP wearing a white plastic mask to hid her face.