AIDS2010 Demetra at the ICRSE NGO Booth
Throughout the AIDS2010 Conference in Vienna ICRSE members will be exhibiting their work or organisation at the ICRSE Booth in the global village. What a great opportunity to make a short interview with some of our members!
DEMETRA Association of HIV affected women and Their Family
Svetlana Kulsis and Irena Andrijevskaja (thank you Irena for helping with translation!)
DEMETRA is a support and outreach program in Vilnius,
Why did you want to be at this conference?
The conference is a great opportunity to see what other countries do around hiv services, to experience what other countries are doing with sex workers and to meet other people. It is also an opportunity to support people who are living with hiv/aids and to speak with others about our situation in Lithuania.
Tell us one or two of the main activities you do now with sex workers.
Our main work is to provide clinic consultaion and express testing for sex workers and the distribution safe sex supplies. Recently we have started a project to provide skills training courses to those sex workers who might want them so that they might have more labour opportunities.
Do many sex workers want this kind of service?
It is a new project that is targetting young female sex workers. We are not sure how it will work but we do know that not every sex worker wants to change their work so they will not necessarily be interested in this service.
Can you tell us a little about the situation for sex workers in Vilnius?
In Lithuania sex work is neither illegal nor legal so people are doing the work in a uncertain middle space. It is not such a large group and mainly people are working in Vilnius.
Police who actually have contact with sex workers are saying that sex work should be made legal but unfortunately this is not what their superiors are saying and the politicians do not agree.
Most feminist groups in Lithuania are saying that female sex workers are victims who need help. There is not much support from women´s orgs for the work of Demetra and there is a lot of stigma and discrimination
What would you like to see happen in Lithuania for sex workers rights?
We want sex work to be decriminalised, we want services for sex workers as at the moment there are not really any services for sex workers in Lithuania; and we want these services to be free and anonymous. Women must have easier access to affordable health services. Also we want the government to see that sex worker are not criminals or victims but women, mothers, workers and people who have their human rights. And to end we want to give our support to sex workers to help them to be stronger to be able to fight for their human rights.
Thank you to DEMETRA.