Sex Work Should be Legalized in Armenia: Human Rights Advocate
Sex work and brothels in Armenia should be legalized, as a result of which several issues connected to human rights would be resolved, says Mikael Danielyan, head of the Yerevan-based Helsinki Association for Human Rights.
Speaking to Epress.am, Danielyan said that often it is law enforcement officials who are at sex workers’ back and if the industry was legalized corruption risks could be avoided. Legalization would also allow those working in the industry to form trade unions, as is the case in some countries, and it would be possible to defend the rights of sex workers. Furthermore, legalization would allow for safer services as sex workers could undergo routine check-ups without the stigma attached to their profession.
According to Danielyan, though sex work is subject to administrative responsibility and pimping (soliciting), to criminal accountability, the industry is blooming in Armenia, being a widespread underground business. The human rights advocate finds that at least for this reason it would be good to legalize the industry — making it controllable and respectable, because, all the same, a large number of men in Armenia use the services of sex workers and prohibition basically is a formality as it’s not possible to eradicate the world’s oldest profession.
Sex workers are fined 1,000 drams for accepting money the first time they’re caught and 2,000 drams, the second time, Danielyan said, but in July, these administrative penalties will be increased to 20,000 drams for a first-time offense and 40,000 for a second. This might lead to sex workers raising their rates, Danielyan added.
Though many organizations in Armenia work toward protecting the rights of sex workers, the issues are many, he said.
“Sex workers are often forced to become a tool in the hands of law enforcement bodies, informers, so that they can work without problems. Sex workers are arrested, but more often arrested are the “Mama Rosas,” who sometimes are unable to reach an agreement with those watching their back. It’s known that there are different types of sex work — street walkers and call girls, who are more expensive and elite. But for the most part, the latter’s rights are protected,” he said.
In Danielyan’s opinion, sex work won’t be legalized under the current government and this is also tied to the way of thining of Armenian society today. However, even if there are liberals or democrats in Armenia’s government, almost nothing will change because the ideology of most of them is likewise nationalistic, which doesn’t provide for publicly raising such issues.
“Most likely, there won’t be a deputy who will raise this issue; they would be embarrassed, since according to the national mentality, it’s not acceptable to say this could be legalized,” he said, adding that the issue always will remain current because it directly relates to the protection of human rights.
Recall, two days ago, Epress.am published an article stating that a website was launched in Armenia in which sex workers are offering their services and which has become a topic of discussion both in the media and on social networking sites. The Armenian police has announced that it is looking whether the site’s activities are in violation of the country’s constitution or not.
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