Program for support of sex workers

This program includes direct work with sex workers and their families on the field that is taking place on the territory of the City of Skopje, as well as in the daily/drop in center of HOPS. The program comprises a wide range of services whose main objective is to provide increasing of accessibility to health protection and to advance the rights related to human health, as well as to contribute to the process of their social inclusion as full-fledged citizens of the Republic of Macedonia that enjoy their human rights and actively participate in the life of the community.

Target groups:

  • Sex workers (men, women, transgender/transsexual);
  • Intimate partners and families of sex workers;
  • Clients of sex workers;
  • Protectors, mediators, procurers (limitation of legal services, mainly in the part of the Criminal Code);
  • Professionals working in the field of health, social protection and human rights (centers for social work, health institutions and citizens’ associations).

Program objectives:

•    Improved health status of sex workers (SW) and their families;

•    Social inclusion of SW in the society;

•    Promotion and protection of human rights of SW;

•    Strengthened and mobilized community of SW in advocating for their own interests and rights;

•    Increased scope of service users, upgraded existing services and their improved quality.

The objectives of the Services program include several aspects: health and psychological support for SW, social and economic support for SW, legal support for SW and empowerment of the community of sex workers in advocating and lobbying for their own interests and rights.

HOPS services for sex workers

Due to the described situation, in January 2000, the NGO HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje, which has been developing harm reduction programs for drug use since 1997, created an outreach program for HIV/AIDS prevention and STI among sex workers, working on the (the street) in Skopje, and later among sex workers in the Roma suburbs in Skopje as well as sex workers working in the close settings (private apartments, massage parlors). In line with the determined needs for the contacted sex workers, which could not be met by existing institutions, HOPS upgraded its services by introducing social, health and legal support services, developed a drop in centre for sex workers, started programs targeting clients of sex workers, but also families, partners and children, and continuously works on community empowerment which leaded to establishing of a newly informal sex workers group STAR.

Governmental and political authorities don’t consider sex work to be an issue for discussion, except maybe as public health and HIV/STI prevention issue (Ministry of Health and grant supported by GFATM), media treats it only trough its criminal connectivity and sensationalism, general public is ignorant and interested in moral perspective, and human and labor rights perspective is missing at all levels.

All this emphasize the need of future greater involvement of sex workers and their allies in advocating and putting the sex work on the political and public agenda not just as a public health, but also as a human right and labor issue.