Gender-based violence and barriers to accessing justice constitute particularly prevalent and largely invisible concerns among women sex-workers. Women, particularly those belonging to marginalized groups, are subjected to deeply rooted structural inequality and intersectional discrimination. Various forms of discrimination and inequality influence the decision of a woman to engage or to remain in sex work. Women who experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, as well as migrant women, are particularly vulnerable to sex work.
As prostitution is an administrative offence according to the Georgian legislation and certain acts related to prostitution are criminal offences, applying to the police in cases of gender-based violence poses additional risks and barriers to sex workers—if their status (sex work) is revealed, sex workers or persons related to them might face administrative or criminal responsibility. As a result, sex workers are particularly vulnerable to various violent crimes (committed by law enforcement or private individuals). The aim of the study is to analyze the nature of gender-based violence against sex workers, legal regulation for violence and barriers to accessing justice. While analyzing violence and intersectional discrimination against sex workers, the study relies on international human rights standards and examines the Georgian legislation and existing court practice. The study also incorporates the results of focus-group interviews with sex workers regarding violence and discrimination against sex-workers and their access to justice in five Georgian cities (Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi, and Telavi) in 2016. The study offers recommendations on legislative, policy and practice levels for the protection of women sex workers against gender-based violence and to increase their access to justice.
The study does not analyze the model of legalizing sex work and its potential impact on ensuring human rights of sex workers.