Woman plus...

    Public Kaleidoscope
    (The material is based on the newsletters of the Agency for Social Information.)

On April 8, 1998, the Credo public association, jointly with the inter-regional public organization - the Centre of the Public Health, submitted a number of proposals to the Social Policy Committee of the City Soviet of Deputies on the work of the City Employment Centre.
"We think that the very form of the enterprises' orders is the discrimination of women's rights in the sphere of labour and contradicts the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the Code of the Laws on Labour and a number of international conventions, signed by our country. We think that from the employer's orders should be removed the restrictions by the sex and by the age, unless they are due to the professional needs. It is quite enough that under the other equal conditions the job is given to men. The resolution of the problem of women's discrimination by the sex and by the age when the employers file orders with the Novosibirsk Employment Centre, would be a precedent on the all-Russia level.
If we do not resolve this problem today, tomorrow it will loom large before our children," runs the comment of Elena Melnikova, head of the Credo public organization. "If the Social Policy Committee refuses to consider this question, we shall turn to the regional public prosecutor's office."
In Novosibirsk, like across the whole of Russia, the problem of unemployment is largely that of women. According to the data of the City Employment Centre, 76.4 per cent of the registered unemployed are women, while only 10 per cent of the vacant jobs are intended for them. In the total number of jobs for the specialists, the share of those for women is a mere five or six per cent.
Telephone for contacts: (3832) 24-8519.

MOSCOW, March 31. A round table on the theme, Women and the Quote Representation in the Power Bodies, sponsored by the New Prospects foundation, was held at the Russian Socio-Political Centre. Taking part in the discussion were sociologists, politologists, State Duma Deputies and the representatives of political factions and of women's public organizations. In the course of the debates, it was pointed out that, though the Constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees equal rights, freedoms and opportunities, the actual participation of women in the power structures is much less than that of men.
In this connection, certain organizations, such as The Women of Russia, the association Women for Social Democracy, the Consortium of Women's Non-Government Organizations, etc., are putting up a struggle for the promotion of women into the power structures on the federal and on the regional levels. The quoting of the seats, in the opinion of many specialists politologists, is the most effective, even though not the only one, mechanism to ensure an equal access of men and women to the power structures.
According to politologist Natalia Stepanova, in the Scandinavian countries, for example, the question of the quotes was raised in the late 1960s. By the end of the 1980s, the quotes had been fixed in most of the Scandinavian countries. They have played a huge part in the introduction of women into the power. Thus, in Norway, almost a half of the Ministries are today headed by women. The general parliamentary elections in Great Britain in 1997 were a shock to the entire humanity: 120 women came into the Parliament (to compare: in Russia, there is only one woman out of 178 members of the Federation Council).
In the opinion of Svetlana Aivazova (the Institute of Politology and of the Social Studies, Women's Club F-1), the idea of the quote representation is of particular importance for Russia today. Its implementation can help replace the corrupt political elite, which is reproduced in every election. But so far, as the attendants have emphasized, the idea of the quoting needs popularization both among the representatives of the authorities, and among the civilian population.
This goal was pursued by the New Prospects foundation, as it was busy elaborating an original programme, Promotion of Women into Power As a Condition for a Harmonious Development of Society. Within the framework of the programme, concrete steps will be studied and proposed for drawing women into the power structures in the regions. It is planned to involve in the resolution of the problem of women's representation in the power structures the Deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, the Deputies of the local legislative assemblies and the leaders of prominent political parties and of women's organizations.

MOSCOW, March 26. A round table was held in the State Duma of the Russian Federation within the framework of the seminar, The Nation and the State, sponsored by the Geopolitics Committee, on the issue, Prostitution in the Law. Taking part in the round table were the deputies, jurists, psychologists, sociologists, representatives from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Public Health, and also from public organizations and from the media.
Alexander Londo, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee in the Saratov Regional Duma, told us about the plan, compiled by Governor Dmitri Ayatskov - to open a brothel in the town of Balakovo, in connection with a threatening growth in the numbers of the HIV-infected patients in this town over the last year (80 cases out of 380 in the entire region). In A. Londo's opinion, the legalization of the prostitution and the opening of brothels is the most realistic way for the state to derive an income, which today enriches the criminal structures. The prostitution goes third after the trade in the arms and in the drugs in the monetary turnover. In Moscow alone (according to different sources), from 50,000 to 150,000 men and women are engaged in this business, while not paying any taxes off their incomes to the state treasury.
A similar stand in respect of this phenomenon is occupied by Darya Lomakina and Elena Glembotskaya, representatives of the Lauder centre of psychological assistance: the prostitution does exist, so it should be legalized. According to the data of the All-Russia Centre for the Public Opinion Studies, the idea of the legalized existence of "love for a pay" finds support among 37 per cent of the Russians. The Centre has already worked out a special programme, in the framework of which it is proposed to organize the professional training and the specialists' consultations for the men and the women, engaged in the prostitution.
Elena Kubanich, a worker of the Dermatology and Venerology Institute, has also come out in support of creating special public centres of assistance to the workers of the sexual sphere. Such centres, she said, have been established and functioning in many countries of the world. In the opinion of Sergei Zharikov, editor of the Attack journal, of Sergei Belyak, a lawyer, and of Yuri Korolev, a jurist (the Institute of Legislative Studies under the Government of the Russian Federation), and also of some other participants in the seminar, the phenomenon, which actually exists in the social life, should by all means be legalized. However, one must firmly restrict the people, who wish to take on the prostitution as a profession, in the civil rights. A practice like that existed in Russia in the late 19th and in the early 20th century: the women from the brothels were issued the so-called yellow tickets. Sergei Zharikov also proposed to sterilize the prostitutes, because, in his opinion, they are inferior creatures, something in between a human being and an animal.
The participants in the round table were unanimous in the opinion that the work on elaborating a legal act on the legalization of the prostitution should be started immediately, but that it should be carried out by stages under the condition that all the interested parties interact in its compilation (meaning the law-protection, public health, justice, tax, etc. bodies). Many of them expressed an opinion that this decision may exert an unpredictable impact on the moral and ethical standard of the nation. Besides all the other apprehensions, Sociologist A. Ignatyev is afraid that the legalization of the prostitution may create a precedent for the restoration of the institute of the slave trade (in the form of serfdom).
As for the establishment of brothels, the jurists held it that the state cannot engage in the souteneurial activity, which is a legally punishable crime in this country. This stand is shared by all the world (except for the State of Nevada in the USA). If Russia violates a number of the international conventions, prohibiting the exploitation of the human body and the slave trade in women and in children, as Vladimir Pron, head of the criminal investigation department of the Chief Board of Internal Affairs in Moscow stressed, it would become the first country in the world to officially permit the brothels. In his turn, biologist A. Malygin reminded those present that an increase in the numbers of the workers in the sphere of sexual services and the legalization of their activity may have a negative impact on the demographical situation in this country, because in the final account, the prostitution amounts to the destruction of a sound physiological instinct - that of reproduction.
Representatives of the public organizations, dealing with the problems of the citizens in the risk groups, have also shared their ideas on legalizing prostitution in Russia.

Valentina Melnikova (the Moscow Research Centre on the Human Rights):

"Everything, which is not prohibited, is permitted. This is why every human being has the right to sell his own body. It is another matter, if this is the question of the souteneurial activity, which is a business, based on the exploitation of human vices. In this case, the rights of the citizen are crudely violated, and the law-protection bodies must give a thought to this.
Any idea of the legalization must be welcomed, because this would reduce the chances for the criminal business. In fact, it is the secrecy that, as a rule, makes people commit law breaches. The same situation prevails in the sphere of the drug consumption and in the sphere of intimate services. But generally speaking, this problem is more of an ethical and economic nature, and it should be tackled on the level of the state."

Nikolai Nedzelsky, chairman of the IMENA (The Names) foundation in Russia:

"From the point of view of the spread of the HIV-infection, there is no difference between the sex worker and an ordinary man. I do not see any direct link between narcomania and prostitution either. Any information on the AIDS prophylaxis is only possible under the conditions of glasnost and openness. Therefore, the legalization of the prostitution as a phenomenon and a legal existence of brothels may play a positive part, as we see it, in reducing the level of the spread of the HIV-infection in Russia. Because in this case, both the medical assistance and the information on the prophylaxis of the diseases will be more available both to the customers of the sexworkers and to themselves."

Elena Kochkina, director of the project, The Gender Expertise of the Legislation, from the Moscow Centre of the Gender Studies:

"A rapid growth in the prostitution over the recent eight or ten years is a reality of our life, the result of the development of international tourism and of the establishment of the institute of the New Russians, which has entailed the expansion of the intimate services market. The public opinion favours the legalization of the prostitution, because it would make it possible to legalize the capital, circulating around this sphere. Prestigious brothels may also be opened, with a high standard of the services, which would be safe from the point of view of the public health bodies. The consulting centres under them must be financed from the city budget. Today Moscow just cannot afford this. But in general, the question of the existence of the prostitution in Russia has a bearing on the issue of illegal immigrants. Indeed, most of the "priestesses of love" hail from the Ukraine, Moldavia, Belarus and the other CIS members.

KRASNOYARSK, April 3. The Board of Justice of the Krasnoyarsk Territory Administration issued a certificate on the registration of the regional public organization, Social Protection of the Child's Rights. The organization was established by Natalia Sozinova. And the reason for setting it up was the fact that her son Maxim was beaten up by his classmates.
Maxim was made a diagnosis of the concussion of the brain. The coordination of movements was upset in him and he started to suffer from headaches. At first, his mother made an attempt to tackle the accident in a civilized manner, by having a talk with the class teacher and with the school director. "The children always fight. This is normal," was the answer. And she was advised to speak to the boys' parents on her own. The further talks and even the references to the Law on Education, according to which the educational establishments are held responsible for the life and the health of their wards, has not produced any results either.
Having passed through a course of treatment, Maxim returned to the school. But Natalia noticed that Maxim had lost the wish to study and that he was afraid to attend the lessons. She saw that her own visit to the school had exerted a negative impact on the boy and that now he was in need of assistance from a psychologist. At their first meeting, Maxim was asked to draw up his fear. And the child pictured a dirty-brown storm-cloud across the whole list of paper.
Natalia saw that the only way to resolve the problem was to file a claim to the court, and to take to answer as defendants the school director, the District Department of People's Education and the parents of the children, who had taken part in the beating up. As she studied the Convention of the Child's Rights, the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the Law on Education, Natalia realized that her situation was no exception. Many parents do not find enough fortitude in themselves to put up a struggle, and retreat under the impact of the system, sacrificing the physical and the psychic health of their child. The story of her own son prompted Natalia Sozinova to set up a new public organization in Krasnoyarsk.

Telephone for contacts: (3912) 49-5401 (Natalia Sozinova).

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