New Message Reply Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

Barbara Limanowska (
Fri, 15 May 1998 14:33:04 +0200

Spring 1998 issue (No. 3)

OŽKa - the National Information Center on Women's Organizations and
Initiatives in Poland publishes a quarterly publication, The OŽKa Bulletin.
It is conceived as a platform for the exchange of thoughts and ideas for
the women's movement in Poland.
The first Autumn 1997 Bulletin was a "parliamentary" issue which promoted
the participation of women in public life in connection to the
parliamentary elections in Poland. The second Winter 1998 was devoted
entirely to the subject of violence against women.

The Spring 1998 issue *Prostitution and trafficking in women* has just come
out, with a volume of 56 pages. Below we include the contents and summary
of the issue.

*Dear readers!*

The women who took part in the workshops on prostitution conducted by La
Strada some years ago, had no trouble with finding more than 20 different
Polish synonyms for the word "prostitute." However, when they tried to
define prostitution, the situation proved to be more difficult. Is
prostitution simply sex for money? Are there, perhaps, other rewards
involved as well? Is it a profession or a lifestyle? Do women ever become
prostitutes of their own free will, or are they always forced to do so,
directly or indirectly, for example by the lack of other ways of making a
living? Is it even possible to give a general definition of prostitution if
the name covers whorehouses in India - where young girls from Nepal are
chained to their beds - as well as independent businesses run by "sex
professionals", well aware of their rights, in the West?
Prostitution can be considered from many points of view: the moral, the
economic, from the feminist or human rights perspective, in terms of
historical development, a demographic or health issue, as an element of
migration policy, or from the perspective of class, racial and ethnic
differences. The possibilities are many. This issue of OŽKa presents
several, always keeping in mind that every theory, however scientific, in
fact concerns real people and that prostitution is not an abstract concept
but a fact of life with which we are confronted each and every day -
perhaps not as a way of making a living, but as something always present -
in the newspaper ads, along certain stretches of highways, making us wonder
which of the men we know visit prostitutes, or even hearing the ubiquitous
Polish swearword of "Kurwa maŠ" (literally "Whore's your mother").
In addition to the theory behind the facts, the issue presents the types of
organizations which are dealing with the question and examples of specific
actions they have undertaken. We draw readers' attention to La Strada's
information campaign on trafficking in women, Your Right to Dream, Your
Right to Know.. An article by Teresa Oleszczuk, an interview with Stana
Buchowska, and statistical data on trafficking in women in Poland are Las
Strada's contribution to this issue of OŽKa. Thanks.
*Barbara Limanowska*

An open, feminist-oriented discussion of prostitution, as well as the issue
of trafficking in women is new in Poland. This is a subject fraught with
ignorance, misunderstanding, disdain, or at best facetiousness and
indifference. With this issue of the OŽKa Bulletin we hope to provide basic
information on the problems. We talk to professionals who work with
prostitutes, we present international legislation and the voices of women
who are active in non-governmental organizations assisting sex-workers or
combating traffic in women.
In discussing the problem, OŽKa never loses sight of the two main actors:
the prostitute and her client. Joanna Piotrowska talks to a man who
regularly patronizes prostitutes and describes this in terms of a
commercial transaction fulfilling a basic need, as natural as going to a
restaurant when you are hungry. Kamila Sypniewska interviews Krystyna, who
has been working as a prostitute for four years: >I often compare the
profession to the medical profession. You have to see the human being in
every john. I know I am for sale - I'm earning money for an apartment, for
my little boy's' education. I just don't want my mother and son to find
out. I don't care about the rest of the world.<
Jolanta Brach-Czaina reviews Nickie Roberts' >Whores In History<, the most
comprehensive and feminist - in spite of the author's spirited denouncement
of the feminists' "betrayal" of prostitutes - of last year's crop of books
on prostitution published in Poland. Another was Marek Karpi˝ski's >The
World's Oldest Profession: A History of Prostitution<. In her crushingly
critical review of this book Agnieszka Graff suspects that the only reason
the author took the time to write this collection of "superficial essays"
is to have an opportunity to talk dirty to a large audience while at the
same time emanating an attitude of patronizing concern.
The Bulletin also presents international instruments against forced
prostitution and trafficking in women, the provisions of conventions,
declarations and resolutions and reports of the United Nations, the Council
of Europe, the European Union. We also describe the efforts of
international NGOs active in the fight against trafficking, the major
approaches to prostitution present in today's legislation and practice of
the law, and the feminist and legal definitions of the sex business and
trafficking in women.
Anna Nowak, who heads the TADA street-working program, talks to OŽKa about
her work in HIV/AIDS prevention and health promotion among prostitutes in
five towns in Poland's "high-risk" north-western border areas.
Agnieszka Grzybek talks to inspector Bogus│aw Tomta│a of the National
Police Headquarters, responsible for, as it is described in the Polish
police force, "social pathologies", who provides interesting statistical
data on prostitution in Poland and discusses the work of the new and
booming "escort agency" business in Poland.
Kinga Olgyay-Stawikowska, of the Department of Migration and Refugees at
the Ministry of Internal Affairs, writes in detail about the situation of
immigrant women working as prostitutes in Poland, utilizing official
statistics, media reports, police records and state authorities' actions
and opinions.
Stawikowska is also active in the ecumenical movement; in another article
>Jesus' great-great-grandmothers and other prostitutes< she presents women
of the Bible whose presence is ignored or repressed by official church
tradition: women engaged in sex work - like Rahab or Mary Magdalene, or
women who committed "immoral sexual acts" - like Naomi or Ruth - but who
were considered important enough to be one of the small number of women to
be mentioned by name.
And finally, to bring a historic perspective to the discussion, we present
a voice from the past. Zofia Na│kowska, one of Poland's greatest writers,
was also an activist for women's rights in the first decades of this
century. In her speech to the Polish Women's Convention in 1907 she frames
the subject of prostitution within a discourse of women's independence or
dependence. She discusses the ways that women themselves uphold the
whore/Madonna duality and ostracize their "fallen" sisters to retain
financial and psychological "security". Her radical and modern views make
it even more clear that today in Poland the women's movement is by and
large silent on the issue: >The reason for prostitution are we, the
respectable women, whose virtue and ethical ideas of purity are conditioned
solely by the very existence of prostitution. We flourish upon it like
flowers in a swamp - and it is we who cannot endure without, not men. They
need but a woman, we need the prostitute. In sneering at the seduced woman,
by casting out a woman who runs away from her husband from the ranks of
society, by decreeing every emancipated woman fallen and unnatural,
depriving her of any means of livelihood through ostracism in the
drawing-room and the outside world - it is we, the virtuous, good women,
the respectable ones - we make a prostitute out of her or push her into the
arms of the demimonde. Thus a cardinal quality of prostitution is the stand
that the remaining women's community takes towards it, the pariah stigma of
the unclean, despised caste.<
*Kaia Lecka*


#Should the women's movement fight/ support/ accept/ tolerate/ or ignore
Transcript of discussion at OSKa
#Aspects of Economic Migration
Kinga Olgyay-Stawikowska
# What I want, the way I want
Joanna Piotrowska interviews Wojciech N., a client.
#I don't care about the rest of the world
Kamila Sypniewska talks to Krystyna, a prostitute working in Warsaw
#The market Regulates Itself
Agnieszka Grzybek talks to insp. Bogus│aw Tomta│a of National Police
#The Sex Business in Poland
Artur Cezar Krasicki

#Some Questions on Traffic in Women
Teresa Oleszczuk, La Strada Foundation
#Seeking New Definitions
Marjan Wijers, Lin Lap-Chew

#Remarks on the Ethical Tasks of the Women's Movement
Zofia Na│kowska, 1907
#Prostitution Through the Ages
Agnieszka Grzybek
# Letters of the Heteras

#Your Right To Dream, Your Right To Know
An Interview with Stana Buchowska of La Strada Foundation
# Traffic Cracow-style
Beata Zadumi˝ska
#Don't Pretend it Doesn't Exist
Barbara Limanowska talks to Ann▒ Nowak, coordinator TADA Street-Working
#Helpers Must Be Professional
An interview with Zbigniew Izdebski, sex researcher and street-worker
# The TAMPEP Project
Hanka Mongard
# NGOs and Prostitution
Agnieszka Grzybek

# Ersatz Dreams? The La Strada campaign.
Barbara Limanowska

# Dutch Preparations for Change in Legislation on prostitution.
Jan Visser
#The Report of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in women and forced
#The World Charter for Prostitutes' Rights

# Innocent Victims: Who Are Anti-Trafficking Measures Going to Help?
Jo Doezema
#The Prostitution Prism
Gail Pheterson

#The evil of prostitution?
Magdalena Žroda

#Sex Laborers and Servants of Venus. Review of Marek Karpi˝ski's The
World's Oldest Profession: A History of Prostitution
Agnieszka Graff
#The Other Side of Civilization. Review of Nickie Roberts' Whores In
Jolanta Brach-Czaina
#Jesus' Great-great-grandmothers and Other Prostitutes. The Forgotten Women
of the Bible
Kinga Olgyay-Stawikowska
#Acting Like a Whore. The Prostitute in Film
Barbara Limanowska

OSKa -The National Information Center
on Women's Organizations and Initiatives
ul. Falata 2/48, 02-534 Warsaw, Poland
tel./fax: (48-22) 49 51 79
tel. (48-22) 49 79 43, e-mail:
From Mon May 18 05:02:35 1998
Received: from ([])
        by (8.8.5/8.8.5) with SMTP id FAA14474
        for <>; Mon, 18 May 1998 05:02:28 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <>
Received: from csilla [] by with ESMTP
  (SMTPD32-4.04) id A9C31BE0448; Mon, 18 May 1998 11:05:07 +0100
From: "Salamon Alapitvany" <>
To: "stop-traffic" <>
Subject: Resources: Respite Centre in Hungary ?
Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 11:01:09 -0700
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Priority: 3
X-Mailer: Microsoft Internet Mail 4.70.1155
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Dear All,

We have a professional review board meeting regarding our project in
Hungary in a couple of weeks. As such we are intending to propose a shift
of emphasis, partly in response to changing local conditions and partly
because a natural evolution of our engagement strategy.

A lot of the street workers who have been using our project centre have
moved off-road and intend to stay off-road until solicitation is legalised.
Police arrests have been continuous and as such roadside working is
untenable, many have "migrated" through "trafficking" resources and don't
intend to return until the new law is passed. Others are working near-by
but off-road.

Therefore we have considerable organisational capacity to spare at the
moment. This extra capacity was anticipated and expected originally as a
result of increasing staff experience and training, and the development of
volunteers involvement, but local circumstances have precipitated its
arrival. It was always our intention to eventually offer residential
services, but the opportunity to offer such a resource for a sustained
period is here.

We have a large farm with three main buildings on about 7 hectares of land,
we are close to the Serbian, Romanian, Croatian borders. We also have
direct train links to Kiev, and Moscow. We also have easy access by road
and rail to all of the Balkan area, and to north, the Slovak Republic. We
are situated on the main E-75 North-South highway.

It is therefore our intention to offer over the next several years,
emergency respite and assessment for sex workers seeking relocation and
diversion from coerced labour or trafficking. By the end of the summer we
will have accommodation suitable for up to seven or eight women. We are
willing to offer access and referral to this respite service to any
agencies dealing with "trafficked" women from the CEE, CIS and the Balkans.

As such any women referred will have an immediate 30 day respite, during
which time we can apply for a further 90 day stay in Hungary. During this
time with can offer confidential STD and reproductive advice, and a
supportive non-judgemental environment within which to help any woman plan
her long-term recovery. As we have an open, holistic agenda that does not
contain any pre-set requirements or expectations regarding "victims" the
respite centre would be suitable for abused consensual sex workers as well
as other coerced victims. We also expect to eventually to be able to offer
long-term vocational training to reduce vulnerability, dependency and then
increase choice for participants.

Hungary offers visa free entrance to all CEE and Balkan citizens except
Albanians, but we can issue papers to ensure visa issuance.

Our Staff group can speak English, French, German, Hungarian, Romanian,
Turkish. We also have regular access to volunteers who can speak Serbian,
Russian, Ukrainian, Czech and Slovak. We intend to add an English, Polish,
Russian, Ukrainian, speaking staff member in the Autumn.

Such a resource would help address an apparently serious gap in present
services for those women who require re-location away from abuse but can
not or do not want to return immediately to their place of origin.

To be able to develop such a service we need to show that the service is
widely considered to be required and that other agencies would be willing
to consider referrals when appropriate. As such we would be very grateful
if anyone on the list could send us a message with their comments regarding
the need for respite facilities and whether such facilities would be
considered by any agency as a useful resource. (We are interested to know
if agencies such as IOM would consider funding travel for a women from a
receiving country to our centre and then back at her request to her country
of origin, after a suitable respite ?)

Such messages would allow us to request the diversion of some funding and
adjust the present budget to ensure that the resource would be available
from the Autumn. Early responses would be greatly appreciated.

We would also invite anyone visiting the Budapest Conference to visit us
for a day before the conference for a traditional Hungarian barbecue. Some
over-night accommodation is available for visitors so please let us know if
you would like to visit with us.

Best regards

John Davies

Salamon Alapitvany and IldikoK Memorial Civil Rights Institute
Working for Peace and Equitable Justice for all Marginalised People
Seeking to include Sex Workers within Civil Society without descrimination
Believing in Change through Consensus not Repression.

New Message Reply Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Sun May 23 1999 - 13:43:46 EDT