The political events, taking place during decades, of course brought changes in
the perception and attitude towards the phenomenon of commercial sex, as briefly
described in the preface. In this part of the report we will review the economic and
social-demographic basis of the expansion of commercial sex in Armenia. Studying the
research data and other existing research and analytical materials on this subject, the
group of experts has come to a conclusion that the following factors have influenced
the expansion of commercial sex in Armenia:
1.1. Hard economic situation, which is the consequence of the disastrous earthquake
(December, 1988), of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (1989-1994), of the
economic blockade, of the deterioration of traditional economic relations and loss of
markets, of the mass closure of the industrial enterprises and of the deep financial
crisis. As a result, the national labor market is characterized with profound reduction in
employment: the official unemployment rate is as high as 11-12%, and the real
unemployment is reportedly up to 30% of economically active population; “hopeless
constitute 18-19% of the unemployed labor force, the average duration of job
searching is more than two years. It is important to note, that the economic crisis has
first of all hit the women: 60% of unemployed people registered with the employment
services are women, especially those, who have never worked or have lost their
professional qualification.
1.2. The fact that the population becomes poor is the social consequence of the
economic crisis, unemployment and unequal distribution of the most important social
services – education, healthcare, market relations, corruption, income, etc. According
to the official statistical data 55% of the population is poor, 23% out of it is very poor.
Even having job will not save from poverty because of the low level of wages: the
average salary constitutes 35-40 US dollars. The scanty amount of pensions and
unemployment allowances (US $4-10), the insufficiency of family benefits (less than
$20 per household) aren’t enough to satisfy the minimum requirements of a person.
The proportion of women in Armenia in the low paid jobs and the level of poverty of
women is higher than of men.
1.3. Income stratification, measured by Jini coefficient, which is calculated for all
countries in transition in Europe and Central Asia was considered to be the highest in
1 According to the definition of the International Labor Organization (ILO) “hopeless” are considered
those unemployed people who are at active employment age, who are eager to work, but have stopped
searching job, because they have lost their hope to find it.
2 The minimum consumer budget per capita is US $60, according to the official calculations of the RoA
statistical service.
3 See “The Social Snapshot of Armenia and Poverty”: NSS, RoA, 2001.

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