Bulgarian Prostitutes' Legalization Rally Ends in Fiasco
Only a handful of prostitutes showed up for a protest rally in Bulgaria's capital which was supposed to bring attention to their demands for legalization of their activity and complaints of police brutality.
Some 7-8 women attended the rally before the Parliament building in Sofia, which was first announced last week.
The prostitutes stated they had been harassed constantly by the police in the past month, and that the police would not let them work.
They want their trade to be legalized so they can pay taxes and get health insurance as well as protection against police brutality as is the case with other professions. The prostitutes also complain about the conditions in the police detention facilities.
"I agree to pay taxes and social security fees but not to be detained by the police," Ani, a 26-year-old prostitute who has been in the trade for four years, told BGNES at the failed rally.
She said that she had been arrested by the police every other day since July, and that each time she got a new BGN 500 fine; she said she had no way of paying all of those fines.
"I don't kill or rob anybody, why are they tacking us? We are no criminals. We want to find out where it all comes from," Ani explained.
In her words, the police keep detaining only prostitutes who work in the street, not the ones in the so called massage parlors or escort clubs, euphemisms for the existing brothels in Sofia.
She claims that most of the street prostitutes work on their own, and very few of them have pimps.
Ani also revealed that there had been less work for the prostitutes in Sofia since the start of economic crisis.
Ani further stated that she also worked as a prostitute in Germany where her “working conditions” were much better, and she was even allowed to pay taxes.
According to data from Bulgaria's Interior Ministry as of October 2010, cited by the Trud Daily, there were only 1 326 prostitutes in Bulgaria, and 263 brothels were identified around the country. The largest number of prostitutes was said to be in Burgas where 151 girls “obeyed the commands of pimps”, in the Interior's language. More than 140 were registered in Varna and Plovdiv each, while the smallest number of “identified” prostitutes were in Yambol – 6, and Pernik – 2.
The prostitutes who gathered to protest Wednesday with demands for the legalization of their profession spoke openly to the media but asked them not to show their faces because some of them have children who are not aware of their mothers' jobs.
Prostitution is technically not illegal in Bulgaria, unlike the enticement into prostitution and the organization of prostitution rings.
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