This project aimed to improve information on priority issues for Russian, Moldavian, Bulgarian and Albanian prostitutes through cultural centres and leaflets, to influence the protection of victims of the sex trade in the partners’ countries, to provide information on sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, to disseminate the accumulated experience and produce materials for the partner groups.
This project was very much a ‘direct action’ project, since the lead organisation and the partners are all social organisations working directly with women in the sex trade in their respective countries. The impact of the project was therefore potentially very high.
The direct intervention work was achieved in Belgium through recruitment, training and supervision of four cultural mediators who were able to address more than 100 prostituted women directly and offer them advice on a number of priority issues such as contraception and health, and to guide them to specialised services for example in legal aid. To support this, the project produced three leaflets in Russian, Armenian, Bulgarian and Albanian to distribute to the street workers.
The European element of the project was designed to allow organisations working in the same area in other parts of Europe to come together and exchange information and experience. In the event, only one meeting was held because the project organiser experienced administrative and financial difficulties not related to the project, but had also underestimated the budget and so did not have funds for a second planned meeting. See the lessons section below. Despite this, the project achieved its aims.
1. The lead organisation had a number of important difficulties outside the framework of the project. The organisation moved premises, its computer equipment was old and could not cope with the demands of the work, and there were financial challenges related to external support. These could not have been anticipated specifically, however it is important, when planning a project, to remain realistic about the capacities of the leader and partners, and design a project that will not put untenable strain on the finances or organisational realities of the groups involved.
2. The lead organisation as well as the partner associations are composed of social workers used to working directly with the target public. As a result, despite the difficulties encountered during the project, the direct action elements were very well carried out. The leader and partners made the right decision in focusing on this realisable element rather than diverting funds to a second transnational meeting. However, it is a pity that the ‘European’ element therefore did not fulfil all expectations.
3. An ex-post evaluation of this project pointed out the enormous wealth of information contained in the Final Report in the form of a transcript of the meeting between the partners at which social workers discussed in detail the problems encountered by prostitutes on a daily basis. This, however, was not fully prepared for publication, for example by judicious editing and layout. Clearly it could be done in the future. One lesson often arising from Daphne projects is that implementing organisations do not always realise what ‘treasures’ they have filed away – for example, meeting notes, exchanges of ideas or transcripts of meetings. To get full value from a project, it is always worth reviewing these materials and perhaps planning a follow-up action to prepare them for broader sharing, for example by translating them into more European languages and publishing them in hard copy or on a website.
· Information booklets for prostituted women;
· Booklet 'Tu peux; Tu peux pas' on Belgian laws on prostitution (translated into Albanian, Russian and Bulgarian)
· Final report accessible through the website : www.espacep.be