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General Conditions of Sex Workers and Prostitution in Georgia

Tamar Karelidze
Category: Exclusive 

The oldest profession – this is how prostitution is called across the world. Time and place of its origin is unknown, though in some countries sex work is legal. Georgia is not among these countries. Sex work is not punishable here, but providing place for prostitution, engaging underage in prostitution or engaging adults in prostitution with any violent method are.

Sex workers have lots of problems.  Their list is very long list, but there is not so small number of people who are potential victims of STDs. Representative of the foundation “Tanadgoma”, Beka Gabadadze tells Gender Information Agency (GIA) that among the most common STDs are HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes. In the frame of Global Fund’s project, organization provides treatment of these diseases in five cities of Georgia. Beka says that in these cities medical consultation and treatment of some diseases are free.


“Income of this social group is low and often they can’t afford treatment. We are trying to offer them treatment for these five most common diseases. They save approximately 300-400 GEL. We also provide them with trainings on safer sex”.

The latter is one of the activities of “Tanadgoma”, along with communication of social workers with sex workers in the field conditions. Representatives of the foundation often visit sites to distribute lubricants or condoms. It’s been 15 years since organization got involved in these activities, thus it has already gained confidence. Sex workers even contact representatives of the foundation and deliver some information.


Sex workers are not protected from violence and insults. Their conditions especially worsen during so called sweeps, when police acts especially rude and often even physical confrontation takes place. They are under pressure of population as well, who consider their workplace to be improper.
Beka Gabadadze says that in fact there is no sex worker who hadn’t been a victim of violence at least once in their lifetime.

“Supervision studies show that sex workers, who have been victims of violence, got infected with HIV exactly after violence act. State must have a better lever to care for their health”.

Members of “Tanadgoma” say that state needs to be more mobilized towards healthcare issues. Beka Gabadadze says that this social group affects population of the country, since number of their customers is not so small.

“This is a kind of a problem that we call “elephant in the room”. It is impossible to have an elephant in the room and not notice it, but in our reality we often do not respond to the legal requirements which this group may have. These people are left beyond the law,” says Gabadadze.


It is almost impossible to reduce prostitution, though social workers believe that it is necessary to conduct researches on the involvement of population in this field. Informal statistics suggest that majority of them are engaged in sex work due to social conditions. One of the principal measures which experts believe that state needs to take is to protect prostitutes from violence.


The more frequent facts of violence against sex workers are the less they seek support from law enforcement agencies. Lawyer Tamar Dekanosidze says that they do not trust the police or the court, as they associate police with a punishing, rather than protecting mechanism. In accordance with the Article 254 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, providing place for prostitution is liable to fine or imprisonment with the term of 2 to 4 years. This is an additional factor which hinders sex workers from considering law enforcement officer as an ally.


“First of all mistrust is caused by stigma. When thinking of contacting police, sex workers are afraid that their engagement in sex work will become evident, what according to the Code of Administrative Offences, would result in a fine. So they avoid contacting police, because of the fear of being fined”, says Tamar Dekanosidze.

Law enforcement authorities are obliged by the law on police to protect any citizen from violence, though normative enactment talks only about domestic violence (Law of Georgia on the Police, Article 17, paragraph 2). According to lawyers, legislation is neutral in this regard and doesn’t specify vulnerable groups. As for the attitude, it is almost the same as towards drug abuser women, sexual minorities, etc.

“Main problem is not that we haven’t these issues regulated by the law, but that existing legislative regulations are not used properly”, says Dekanosidze.

Sexual minority sex workers face even more complicated problems than women engaged in prostitution. According to Beka Gabadadze, they are oppressed as people of low social income, as sex workers and as representatives of the most marginalized group. He explains also that conditions of transgender women are the worst.

“I can’t remind a month when we haven’t received information that transgender woman was beaten. They have lots of problems, including difficulties related to changing sex or recordings in their ID cards, what makes their employment complicated. Sometimes the only way to survive for transgender women is to get engaged in sex industry”, - Gabadadze says.

Part of the society agrees that legalization of prostitution will solve several complicated issues, including health of sex workers, improvement of services and elimination of the facts of violence, but lawyers say that legalization might be unjustified for sex workers themselves.

Tamar Dekanosidze believes that in addition to low acceptance by the society, they might find themselves under even bigger regulation and pressure.

According to the current legislation, providing place for prostitution (Article 254), engaging underage in prostitution, as well as engaging adults in prostitution with any violent method are punishable under the Criminal Code. Lawyers say that experience of the countries, where prostitution is legalized, show that sex workers have regular medical examination for STDs, they pay taxes to the state budget, etc. Though in these countries medical manipulations are often carried out without informed consent, and sometimes there are facts of torture and inhuman treatment against sex workers.


Part of the society believes that at this stage there is no readiness in population for prostitution to be legalized.

Tags: Sex workers society Georgia prostitution

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