The Position of Women in Prostitution in the Republic of Serbia

As part of the lecture series “New Views, Perspectives and Research on Gender Theory”, the Study Research Group for Gender Equality and Public Policy of the Institute of Social Sciences, Dr. Dragana Pejovic, lawyer in Novi Sad, held an online lecture on June 8, 2022 on the position of women in prostitution. Republic of Serbia.

Since women usually deal with prostitution the prostitution is often called the “female profession”. The Republic of Serbia stands for the prohibitionist model of regulating prostitution. According to Article 16 paragraph 1 of the Law on Public Order and Peace of the Republic of Serbia, a person who deals with prostitution will be subject to the fine for a misdemeanor. Apart from the fact that prostitution is misdemeanor against public order and peace persons who are dealing with the prostitution, who are mostly women, will be exposed to the condemnation of society. Condemnation of the society is connected with stigmatization, marginalization and discrimination of women in prostitution.

Unproportionally large number of women dealing with the prostitution comparing to the number of men was determinative for Dr Pejovic to establish her research on prostitution and the position of women in prostitution on the theoretical concept of gender, the primary analytical category in feminist researches, accepting the fundamental concept that “gender regimes are not simply the relationship between men and women, they are already a system of power, expectations, roles, behavior, attitudes, discourse and presentation, visualization and hierarchization of gender differences ”(Blagojević Hughson 2013, 34).

The gender approach, which on one hand, “is limiting individual abilities and freedoms” (ibid.), is on the other hand opening the path of women towards prostitution, while the society most often wrongly sees prostitution as a woman’s “choice”. In accordance with this, Dr Pejovic researches prostitution as a woman’s profession taking into consideration that gender pattern shaped by patriarchal ideology in Serbia, in certain unfavorable life circumstances has invisible but powerful pressure on a woman to enter into prostitution.

Apart from the current legal and social position of women in prostitution in Serbia, Dr. Pejović used the historical-legal method to analyze the status of women in prostitution in Serbia in the time period from before the First World War up today.

In order to critically examine all aspects of the current prohibitionist model in Serbia, the research included, in addition to the prohibitionist, regulatory, abolitionist and neo-abolitionist models. Dr Pejovic selected two countries that accept one of the mentioned models and analyzed the impact of the chosen model on the position of women in prostitution.

The legislation of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of the Netherlands was chosen for the analysis in order to assess how the reglementary model influences the status of women in prostitution. The legislation of the Italian Republic and Kingdom of Spain was selected from the countries that implemented the abolitionist model. In order to have insight into a relatively new, a neo-abolitionist model of regulating prostitution we chose to analyze the legislation of the Kingdom of Sweden and the Kingdom of Norway. The legislation of the Republic of Croatia and Montenegro were selected, which like the Republic of Serbia, accept the prohibitionist model.

As she wanted to provide the full picture of status of women in prostitution in the Republic of Serbia, she conducted an empirical research and the results of this research enabled us to have insight into the practice of authorities in charge for processing the cases of prostitution and to have more clear picture about the social status of women in prostitution in the Republic of Serbia.

Based on the results of conducted research, Dr Pejovic came to the conclusion that it is necessary to change the legal status of women in prostitution. This change is possible only by abandoning the existing prohibitionist approach in regulating prostitution that negatively affects all the aspects of women’s lives in prostitution.

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30. 11. 2022.

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