Nordic Model education in Ukraine

Nordic Model Now! was honoured to take part in a series of events in Ukraine to raise awareness of the Nordic Model as a method of ending demand for sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. The events were well received and generated considerable interest from the Ukrainian participants and there was significant coverage in the Ukrainian press.

The events were organised by the Democracy Development Center (a Ukrainian NGO), with support from the National Council of Women of Ukraine, the National Democratic Institute, the Community Council to the Equal Opportunities Caucus in Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Ombudsperson, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, and many enthusiastic activists. It was the work and commitment of individual women in these organisations, in particular  Марія Дмитрієва, Ella Lamakh and Olena Zaytseva, that made the events possible and ultimately successful.

Background

Ukraine ratified the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others in November 1954, and so is, in theory, an abolitionist country. However, these events were the first of their kind in Ukraine and, as well as being part of Ukraine’s international obligations to combat trafficking, were also a response to the increased demand for prostitution in Ukraine as a result of ‘sex tourism’ and an increase in women turning to prostitution for survival in conditions of poverty and deprivation.

The sessions

The events took place over the first two days of October 2018 and were organized as seminars and discussions, with translation provided by Dmytro Lysak.

There were sessions at the Office of Parliamentary Commissioner of Human Rights; the Press Centre of the State TV and Radio Committee and the Verkhovna Rada Committee buildings. These were attended by representatives of governmental departments and NGOs, including: the National Council of Women of Ukraine, the Union of Women of Ukraine, UN Women and the Ministry of Justice.

Helen McDonald speaking at the Office of Parliamentary Commissioner of Human Rights

Maria Dmytriyeva and Anna Ambartsumova coordinated the programme for the Democracy Development Centre which saw contributions from: Megan Walker, Executive Director of London Abused Women’s Centre in Ontario, Canada; Taina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), USA; Grégoire Théry, co-founder and director of the Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution (CAP), France; and Helen McDonald representing Nordic Model Now!

Grégoire spoke about the recent changes in laws in France to allow the implementation of the Nordic Model, and the financial implications of legal or decriminalised prostitution, which are considerable in terms of criminal justice and social services.

Taina spoke about the significance of Ukraine having ratified the 1949 UN Convention and the Palermo Trafficking Protocol, and using existing laws to enable the implementation of the Nordic Model.

Megan spoke about the way that Canada has addressed trafficking and how the Nordic Model has been implemented, as well as the need for high quality support services to allow women to exit prostitution.

Helen gave an overview of how Nordic Model Now! campaign in England and Wales, including an explanation of why we believe the Nordic Model is the best approach to ending men’s demand for prostitution.

The session at the Verkhovna Rada Committee buildings

A session focusing on feminism and gender equality was also arranged for students at the Institute of Journalism at Shevchenko National University and was attended by around 160 people, mostly young woman.

The Ukrainian activists are already planning a bigger series of events for next year. For further information about the campaign for the Nordic Model in the Ukraine, see their Facebook pages:

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