The Gender Information Centre NORA, o.p.s.
Prostitution as violence against women or sex work as a legitimate of work? Disagreements about the nature of sex work permeate not only the public but also feminist groups, who strive to improve the position of all women through active lobbying. Unfortunately, this little-discussed disagreement prevents them from uniting and fighting effectively for better conditions for women in the sex business. Therefore, our project aims to start a discussion among feminists about the nature of sex work.
Central Europe, Czech Republic.
There is little discussion about sex work in the Czech Republic. According to Pleasure Without Risk, 10 to 13 thousand people are providing sexual services in the Czech Republic, mostly women. Up to 20 percent - one of five Czech men, sometimes went to a sex worker ergo the number of clients climbs to hundreds of thousands. It is thus clear that it is a large-scale phenomenon in Czech society. Nevertheless, prostitution is in a legal vacuum as the law is silent about prostitution as such. Feminists are often silent about it as well, because there is a disagreement about the nature of sex work. Therefore, we want to start a dialogue between feminists in the Czech Republic and take the first step to improve the conditions of women in the sex business.
We want to give a voice to sex workers and provide space for their perspective on the nature of sex work. We want to include them in the discussion and, through their stories, find a better understanding between disagreed feminist groups, which should promote their interests.
Social norms play a significant role in assessing behavior. Therefore, it is essential to avoid assumptions about sex work and to conduct biographical research that will bring the views and lives of prostitutes/sex workers closer together. The final document will provide a record of the dialogues, along with the individual anonymized stories. It will offer additional constructive space for debate between those for and against the legitimization of sex work.
The primary target group of beneficiaries is sex workers. Through telephone interviews, we will connect with 5 - 6 sex workers across the Czech Republic. The aim is to conduct biographical interviews with sex workers from different work environments (clubs, private homes, escort services, streets).
The target groups for debates are: 1) feminists who believe that sex work should stay outlawed or perceive it as prostitution and violence against women. 2) feminists who say that sex work should be legalized. The project will be targeted at a wider feminist audience.
The first step is the implementation of biographical qualitative interviews. The focus of interviews will be inspired by the qualitative and quantitative research conducted by "Pleasure Without Risk" and will aim to collect life stories of sex workers. These stories will provide materials for discussions. Therefore, the second step is to hold a series of three videoconferences in which the stories will be presented and discussed. Those conferences aim to find common ground and to start a constructive dialogue between different feminist opinion groups. Eventually, an electronic publication will be created from the conferences, which will document the course and results of debates in connection with specific life stories of sex workers.
The success of the project would be characterized by the involvement of both opinion groups feminists in the discussion on the nature of sex work by the successful finding of common starting points for further discussions. Such a result would allow increasing the unity and efficiency of active feminist lobbying for the better status of sex workers.
The project strengthens democracy by working on the dialogue between different opinion groups, which, through their lobbying power, have a real chance to influence specific policies. Agreeing on the nature of sex work is most important in feminist groups precisely because it is primarily feminists who fight for women's rights.
The real democratic society should not forget nor exclude its marginalized groups of people – which sex workers are.
As a feminist and director of a feminist organization, I often address issues related to women's rights. However, in Czech society in general, but also the groups of feminists, I perceive a certain stigma concerning sex work. That is why I would like to open a constructive space for discussion on this issue, and at the same time, I would like to clarify my position on this issue.
However, the biggest motivation is the desire to move the debate on the nature of sex work or prostitution one step closer to institutional measures to improve the situation of disadvantaged citizens. The reason is simple; this topic has been overlooked for too long!
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personal cost - EUR 20,728
(Two experts, graphic designer for publication design, the transcriber of biographic interviews, project manager)
Overhead cost - 2 440 EUR
Feedback on the concept/idea of the project; on the implementation steps - something to be changed/improved?