In Ukraine, despite the fact that sex work is not illegal, sex workers are often illegally arrested, extorted, or abused by police.
To combat this, an organization called Legalife–Ukraine does outreach to educate sex workers about their rights and record accounts of police violence.
As a result of their work, the committee recently highlighted police violence and discrimination against sex workers as a key problem the Kyrgyz government should address.
At CEDAW’s next hearing, the government will have to show what steps it has taken.
They must work alone in desolate areas, putting them at greater risk.
In such a climate, sexual assault and rape by law enforcement—coupled with the threat of illegal detention or outing—become means of retaliation and control.
They present these findings to local ombudsmen’s offices to make authorities aware of violations.
A representative of the group sits on the ombudsman’s advisory committee to ensure that cases are thoroughly investigated.
But if they can access a lawyer upon arrest, they are more likely to be treated with dignity and be afforded due process.
Recently, the group created a 24-hour legal hotline to connect sex workers with lawyers the moment they come into contact with police.
As sex workers and their allies across the world recognize today as the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, we recognize the community-based organizations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that are striving to do just that.