„We usually don’t look at people through their work. When we meet someone, it is not important to us what a person does for living, but what they are. We are not one-dimensional persons defined only by our work.“

Nina, 46, Zagreb

„Prostitution is a business like any other as all people directly or indirectly enter relations as suppliers, both with our knowledge, work, experience, as well as parts of our bodies. The boundary between whether we do it in a direct or indirect way, is blurred in this activity“

Špela, 35, Ljubljana

Comparing Croatian and Slovenian Prostitution Regimes: Surpassing Exclusions and Securing Human Rights

(International Social Research Foundation, 2016-2017)

Prostitution is a taboo topic in the former Yugoslav countries and engaging in sex work is criminalised in most of these countries, including Croatia, while Slovenia criminalises intrusive offering of sexual service in public, whereby other people are distrurbed. The development of policy is ideological rather than empirically driven and is, in many cases, not informed by the human rights standards.

Indeed, in both countries human rights abuses of sex workers are frequent but are not challenged and there is no sex workers organisation. There is little research on prostitution, particularly research that is based on narratives of sex workers. Further, there are no studies comparing Croatian and Slovenian prostitution policies and their impact on sex workers.

This comparative research assesses commonalities and differences of prostitution policies in the two countries. It looks at if and how the differences are reflected in legal and public discourses and the narratives of sex workers. The research is focused on eliciting experiences of sex workers, as the most important source of information in designing and implementing feasible and effective policies.

By undertaking research in the two post-socialist EU members which prostitution regimes fall outside the dominant frameworks, this study brings new perspectives to the scholarship on prostitution, which can make prostitution policies more inclusive. It questions the main prostitution frameworks of victimhood vs. agency, work vs. violence in the context of specific cultural, economic and political circumstances of the two countries.

The entire research is available here: International Social Research Foundation




Book published

Prostitution in Croatia and Slovenia: Sex Workers’ Experiences

“Prostitution in Croatia and Slovenia is a must read for anyone wanting to learn about sex work in the Balkans. It is a much needed book in light of the marginal status of sex work research, and dearth of official data and studies of sex work in both these countries (…) It is refreshing to read a book attempting to move ‘beyond the binary’ of theoretical approaches (…) in an attempt to foreground the lived realities of people who sell sexual services in Croatia and Slovenia. Another strength of the book is the production of research knowledge which is policy relevant; the authors make a range of recommendations informed by their findings and make a case for future polices and service provision which is informed by the needs of sex workers and are inclusive of sex workers’ own experiences and views.” – Rosie Campbell, University of Leicester and University of York



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