Report on Some Aspects of Commercial Sex Work in Armenia
The subject of this report is not well studied yet in Armenia, despite the fact that
it is gaining more weight as a social and public health factor at the current stage of
“Transition”. For many decades, this issue was a taboo for assessment and discussion
both because of the restrictions of the former regime and traditional conservatism of the
Armenian society. The state policy in respect of the women of “licentious behavior” or
“prostitutes” during the Soviet period was based on repressive measures towards the
latter and their public condemnation.
With the beginning of “perestroika” and “glasnost” in mid 80-ies, the
opportunity to speak, discuss and debate this and other underground social and societal
problems such as drug abuse, homosexuality, etc. widely expanded. The atmosphere of
public condemnation that existed for decades was gradually replaced by attempts to
look into the causes and identify the extent of the problem, as well as to assess the
significance and the role of these “social diseases” (as they were qualified) in the
rapidly changing society.
In parallel to this, liberalization and democratization of public life, twinned with
collapse of economic and social systems throughout the former Soviet Union, pulled
prostitution out of the “shadow”, and this phenomenon began to expand rapidly,
forming its genuine characteristics.
Further cardinal changes in political, economic and social spheres following the
collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of 1990s, emergence of newly
independent states and formation of markets considerably influenced the nature of the
phenomenon. In the goods market this service as well became an item for purchase and
sale, and is now commonly defined as “commercial sex work”.
This report is an attempt to shed a light on socioeconomic, legal, public health ,
and moral/cultural aspects of the rapidly growing sex “business” in Armenia, focusing
on the largest, and relatively “easy-to-access” group of the commercial sex workers –
“street” prostitutes. The analysis of the official statistical data and the results of the
survey aim at further opening this topic for discussion from different perspectives.

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