Waiting for the Inevitable

Sex work in Macedonia, and elsewhere in the world, still represents an illegal and extremely stigmatized activity, which puts the dignity and human rights of sex workers under permanent threat. The unequal treatment in institutions and the access to services, prejudices, negative media image, and various other forms of violence are daily experienced by many women, men and transgender persons in the sexual industry.

An example of systematic prejudice-caused violence happened on November 21st, 2008 in Skopje, when 23 sex workers, 8 clients, several passers-by and one NGO activist were detained in a police raid. Most of the arrested were released after several hours, while sex workers were held all night long and forcefully tested for HIV and Hepatitis C during the following day. At the same time, they were publicly exposed via media without any identity protection.

Against 7 of the tested sex workers, who were established as Hepatitis C positive, criminal charges were filed for spreading infectious diseases. A group of the raided sex workers were encouraged to initiate the first ever civil lawsuits against institutions and media who have violated a number of their human rights.

These videos represent somewhat of a documentation of the lawsuits initiated against and on behalf of sex workers part of the police raid “Suppression of street prostitution”. They intend to follow and document the processes and to provide objective information to the professional and wider public regarding the cases treating violation of human rights of socially marginalized communities.

The video ‘‘Waiting for the Inevitable – the Right to Privacy and the Media‘‘ follows and documents the lawsuit filed by 3 persons providing sex services against 5 media (printed and electronic) for violation of the right to privacy and damage compensation. This video analyses and opens a debate for the role of the media in the violation/ promotion of the rights of sex workers and marginalized communities in general.

The video ‘‘Waiting for the Inevitable – Criminalization of HIV/STD Transmission‘‘ is a representation of the effect of article 205 from the Criminal code, i.e. the article which was used for detaining, testing, but also for prosecution of sex workers who were tested as Hepatitis C positive. Different experts from the area of HIV prevention and human rights discuss the contradiction of this article’s use by police and court actions and the development of an effective prevention from infectious diseases among vulnerable groups. This video calls on a wider expert debate for more detailed analysis of article 205 of the Criminal Code and its interpretation in the court practice, which would be based on respecting human rights of all people equally.

The video ‘‘Waiting for the Inevitable – Systematic Violation of Human Rights‘‘ documents the direct practical experiences of representatives/lawyers of 13 people providing sexual services in the civil procedure against the Republic of Macedonia (MOI, First Instance Court Skopje 1 and the Clinic for infective diseases - Skopje) for the violation of their personal rights (the right to privacy and forbidding torture, inhumane or degrading treatment and punishment) as well as damage compensation. Having in mind that this is the first procedure of such kind in Macedonia, documenting such experiences, in addition to a legal resolution, shall provide an opportunity for future analyses in the court practice and directions for all representatives of marginalized communities who would face similar situations.