Sex workers and other people living with HIV face a lot of challenges in Ukraine. I have been on ART for a long time. I used to receive drugs for a period of six months, which made it possible for me to move freely in the country and abroad. Nowadays, people living with HIV receive drugs for only one month. This really limits me with my travel schedules, which tend to be unplanned. Previously, a social worker from the Network of People Living with HIV could take the drugs for me in my town, now the head of the AIDS Center asks either for personal presence of the client or requests to show a letter of trust. I think this is pure nonsense, and a bureaucratic attitude. And lately, a pharmacological company stole state money planned for ART, which resulted in difficulties with providing HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy) to people living with HIV.
Generally the situation in Ukraine remains unstable and the people express their dissatisfaction with the activities of the new Parliament. The actions of several Parliament Members are rather worrying, as they introduce absurd draft laws. One such law, for instance, is about abolishing abortions. They argue that because in Ukraine many people die, it is necessary that people give birth to more children.
LEGALIFE documents cases of violation of rights by the militia. We have launched a hotline with lawyers
Fortunately, my organisation LEGALIFE can still carry out its work and raise awareness on sex workers’ human rights. Our society lacks tolerance regarding sex work. People don’t understand that sex workers are people with the same rights as others. They still treat us as scum of society who need to be exterminated. However, there are people who support us and understand our problems. LEGALIFE continues to document cases of violation of rights by the militia. We have launched a hotline with lawyers, who answer people who report unlawful actions of the militia, clients, partners, and others. In other words, we respond to these cases and want to lower the level of violence experienced by sex workers.
LEGALIFE supports sex workers in different ways. One sex worker contacted our organisation and asked for help, as she was requested to pay money for a surgical operation after an ambulance delivered her at the hospital. She had to pay 1,500 hryvnas, which equals 78 US dollars, for each day spent in hospital, and they refused to carry out the operation until she paid. Members of my organisation went to the hospital and talked with the doctor. The problem was solved and she had the necessary operation without being asked to pay.
The aim of my work is that the undeclared war stops, that society is more tolerant and that sex work is a job like any other job. And I wish that young people do not have to face death, and that finally medicines against HIV will be produced.