Today is Sex Worker Pride day, a day for sex worker community to celebrate their achievements and share stories of sex workers’ self-determination while honouring the tireless efforts of colleagues everywhere to secure rights and safety for all sex workers. It is an opportunity to celebrate and share stories of sex workers’ self-determination and the achievements of the sex worker rights movement.
After its introduction by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), the Sex Worker Pride day becomes the fourth annual key date of the sex workers rights movement. Globally sex workers face many challenges in day to day life. They are being marginalised, stigmatised and stripped from their rights. Their voices are often ignored but they never stop pursuing the rights they desperately need. The sex workers rights movement is powerful with a vibrant and diverse community that has drive and compassion that’s too big to be stopped by the difficulties they are facing.
Sex Worker Pride extends to all marginalised by criminalisation, discrimination and stigma across the sex worker movement and celebrates the diversity within our community during International Sex Worker Pride.
To mark the first Sex Worker Pride day, our colleagues from the Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN), a sex worker-led regional network in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia publishes its Annual Report that shows SWAN’s work in diverse areas in order to achieve our objectives as laid out in our Strategic Plan 2018-2022. We join our members, colleagues and allies in celebrating our never ending passion for creating a better world for sex workers.
In Greece, the phrase “Take care of each other” continues to inspire the team of Red Umbrella Athens. A new initiative of the Day Centre and the DPNSEE member organisation Positive Voice Roadmap is the “Before You Enter, Put In” campaign. This is an attempt to sensitize sex studio clients to avoid taking photos or videos in their respective locations without the consent of the people working there. As part of Red Umbrella Athens team visits to sex studios, this issue has often been communicated as a major problem that disrupts their functioning.
Organisation STAR-STAR from North Macedonia, the First Sex Workers Collective in the Balkans, released a video to mark the Sex Worker Pride day.
Belgrade Pride Week 2019 has begun on Monday 9th and will end with the Belgrade Pride, which will be held on Sunday 15th September.
The opening ceremony was held at the City of Belgrade’s National Assembly. Jovanka Todorović, representing the Organizational board of Belgrade Pride, opened this year’s Pride Week and gave an overview of all the important events that will take place. Goran Miletić and Marko Mihailović, fellow members of the Organizational board, spoke about the political messages of the “I do not renounce” campaign, as well as Belgrade’s candidature to host EuroPride in 2022.
During this week Belgrade Pride will organize workshops, open talks with the community, exhibitions, movies projections, performances as well as the first Belgrade Pride Theater Festival. This year the face of the Pride is singer Sara Jovanović.
Also, the Pride Info Center with our associate member association Duga (Rainbow), will provide free HIV testing, every day during Pride Week from 3pm to 6pm, in Kralja Milana 20 in Belgrade.
The Pride walk will begin on Sunday at 5 pm on Slavija Square.
The plan and program of events during the Pride Week 2019 and plan of Pride Walk is available following link>>>
On the occasion of the International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), DPNSEE issued a press release underlining the importance of awareness and fighting stigma on overdose and presenting data about the issue worldwide and especially in Serbia. The release was published by the national Press agency Tanjug and several other media and portals.
In Montenegro, NGO Juventas also issued a press release (supported by the NGO 4 Life) and held a press conference where Marija Mijović, coordinator of Programme of direct assistance to the people in risk of social exclusion presented situation in the country. A movie “Overdose”, directed by Mladen Vujović, outreach worker at the Drop-in Centre of NGO Juventas, Montenegro in cooperation with the Hungarian Drug reporters, was screened at the Green Montenegro International Film Festval.
Our colleagues from the Romanian Harm Reduction Network created a special video for this year’s IOAD campaign. Have a look at “Voices of the drug users. Episode 1”
Association AREAL and AREALTRIBE group from Slovenia organized a workshop dedicated to the International overdose awareness day on 1 September 2019 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Participants were educated how to respond if an individual finds himself or herself in that position.
Thousands of people die each year from drug overdose and the fact is, overdose is an increasing global problem. Spreading the message that the tragedy of overdose and injury is preventable, International Overdose Awareness Day raise awareness of overdose and reduces the stigma associated with the drug-related death. Also, the day of awareness is providing support to families and loved ones of overdose victims, so that no one is forgotten.
With delay in establishing political structures in the country and reduced international donor support, the situation with harm reduction services in Bosnia Herzegovina became alarming. Here is what we heard from Denis Dedajić, Chairman of the Association Margina and DPNSEE Board member:
The current situation is as follows: the Margin Association is the only survivor with the services and we provide them now and on a larger scale because no other service provided by other NGOs is active, so all clients have turned to us. We are taking over users and equipment from Sarajevo and we shall organise distribution with support of few gatekeepers who used to work for us recently.
I estimate that we will endure until the end of October and after that we shall have no more materials for distribution. The salaries of our staff need not be talked about, as of May we are all volunteers and the funds we had are already spent on transportation and rents of the space we use.
The situation is further complicated by a few things. What concerns us most are the indolence of the authorities and the large waves of migrants coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yesterday, I was in contact with asylum officers and they informed me that about 1.000 immigrants a day enter northern Bosnia and in different ways move west to the border with Croatia and the EU respectively. They aim at Western Europe, but their psycho-physical condition is very poor. There is an increasing number of fatalities, both as a result of illness (quite a large number of TB and Hepatitis C), which is due to conflicts between groups from different countries (Afghanistan Pakistan, Algeria Morocco, Syria, Bangladesh). These conflicts generally end with very serious injuries by knives or other cold weapons. We have had about 100 contacts so far and have been using sterile injection supplies. According to asylum officers, many drug users have been around for several years.
NO one is doing anything on this issue, and we are simply waiting for when a major incident will occur so that everything will surface.
We sincerely hope that a solution will be found soon to revitalize the harm reduction services and ensure health support needed.
Our member organisation Labyrinth invite to check out awareness video-animation they produced on Human rights and Harm reduction approach for people who use drugs in Kosovo.
The video was a part of the project that Labyrinth implemented “Enhancing drug user’s rights and entitlements” and was supported by the EU Office in Kosovo. The purpose of the “ENDURE” project was to create a more appropriate environment for people from marginalized communities to realize health, social and legal rights and to be involved in all processes of social life.
The project aimed to address the needs of discriminated and stigmatized groups by strengthening their capacities to invoke anti-discrimination law. The “ENDURE” project also aimed to raise awareness against discrimination providing legal and psychological support to drug users and improve access to drug users.
In scope of the ENDURE project, Labyrinth prepared two publications (both in Albanian):
For this year Association Margina once again organised street action disseminating promotional materials, meeting people and spreading information about the campaign and work of the association.
By sharing an educational brochure (What to do when someone overdoes you, etc.) to several locations in the city by volunteers, Margina wanted to raise people’s awareness of a problem that doesn’t affect only individuals, but whole community. Passers-by had the opportunity to get acquainted with the organization’s work and campaign goals, and also to take pictures with campaign Logo in order to support those who need it the most. Organisers are very pleased with the community response to the messages that the campaign provides, as more and more people are aware that changes must be introduced to the entire system.
A special feature this year is the public debate “Do We Need The Office of Addiction Diseases” with 40 representatives from institutions and civil society present, as well as active users of “suboxone” therapy and active users of harm reduction services provided by our organization.
The opposite views are expressed about how to fund a part of the health system, and insufficient systemic support for people using drugs. Also, for the first time data from the regional project “Budget advocacy and monitoring” were presented and representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Health Insurance Fund had mild panic outbursts, with the information provided and recommendations.
The conclusion of all the attendees is that this Department of Addiction Diseases, as urgently needed, will be one of our goals in the advocacy campaign that will follow in early September.
Association Terra held a presentation of the poster ONLY VARIETY CAN RESPOND TO VARIETY which was promoted at the Harm Reduction Conference held Porto recently this year. Activities related to the poster were organised in their Drop in Centre during the Support. Don’t Punish campaign.
On 7 July, they organised a public quiz on Drugs and Politics (questions related to drug consumption, from different domains like geography, history, film, etc.) in the Rijeka Youth Club.
From 23 to 27 June 2019, The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) conducted a mission to Pristina, Kosovo to review the drug control situation there with a view of facilitating access to controlled substances while preventing their diversion.
INCB is an independent, quasi-judicial expert body established by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 for monitoring member states’ implementation of the UN drug control treaties. It has 13 members, each elected by the Economic and Social Council for a period of five years.
The mission was led by Ambassador (ret.) David Johnson, Member of the Board, supported by Mr. Nodirjon Ibragimov of the INCB secretariat. The mission was facilitated by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMiK).
The delegation met with the representatives of Kosovo agencies involved in pharmaceutical regulation; the administration of justice, including prosecutorial services and the judiciary; law-enforcement, customs and forensics; and public health, addiction treatment and rehabilitation.
The INCB delegation also met with leaders of the international community supporting local institutions, including the EU Office in Pristina, EULEX, the OSCE Mission, UNDP, UNODC, and UNMiK. In addition, meetings were held with officials from the NGO “Labyrinth”, a DPNSEE member organisation, which provides opioid substitution treatment and other elements of a comprehensive treatment and reintegration programme and with the leader of the NGO Community Development Fund, which supports “Labyrinth”.
One of the goals and tasks of the Strategy for Improving the Quality of Life of the LGBT Community in Montenegro, adopted in 2013, was the creation of a Trust Team consisting of members of the Police Administration and the LGBT community. The main tasks of the team include timely and constructive communication between the LGBT community and the Police Administration, constant monitoring of LGBT people’s safety, finding the best models to address their problems, monitoring the development of a contact network of the police officers working with LGBT community, supporting all activities related to police capacity reinforcement and cooperation with international partners monitoring the LGBT inclusion process.
The new team, formed by the decision of the Minister of the Interior, held its first meeting on 1 July 2019. The Team consists of officers of the Police Directorate, the Ministry of Interior and representatives of non-governmental organizations dealing with the protection of LGBTI persons – LGBT Forum Progress, LGBTIQ Social Centre, Juventas, Queer Montenegro and SPECTRA.
The team noted that non-governmental organizations dealing with the protection of LGBTI rights and the Police Directorate have a continuing quality cooperation and that Tim will ensure that the cooperation in the future period is further enhanced. The previous Action plan needs to be innovated in order to make the activities of the Team more concrete, which will further contribute to continuous monitoring of the issues of LGBTI security, confidence building and solving specific cases of relevance to the LGBTI community.
DPNSEE member organisation Re Generacija implemented the survey “Access to services of ex-users of the needle and syringe programme closed in Belgrade and Budapest” with the support of the Rights Reporter Foundation. Aim of the survey, implemented in 2018, was to analyse the consequences of closing the services and the effects that it has on risks and daily life of injecting drug users. Objectives included to reach out to the service users and learning about their current use of substances, mapping their access to services, sterile injecting equipment and analysing their perception of the closure of services and most important currently missing service. The conference was also an opportunity to discuss the current situation with recently established outreach programmes, as well as opioid substitution therapy and early warning system for new psychoactive substances.
The results of the survey were presented today at the conference organised together with the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Republic of Serbia. The conference was held in the Palace of Serbia, with participants coming from both governmental and civil society sectors.
Two major groups of users were approached by the survey: drug users which were using the services for a long time and Roma people. A typical drug user both in Belgrade and Budapest is male, in mid-forties, with low education and income. In Budapest, users mainly use new psychoactive substances (synthetic cathinones), while in Belgrade they mainly use opioids (heroine). One of the main conclusion from the survey is that closing the services caused even more difficulties to reach out to drug users who are usually very suspicious.