Since prostitution is a sensitive indicator that develops with changes in the social environment and the state, it is useful to divide the history of this phenomenon from Estonia's first independence according to the different historical stages of the country.

Firstly, the period of Estonian independence 1918-1940, when the prostitution in Estonia was legalized. Secondly, the period of the Soviet occupation when prostitution was criminalized. Thirdly, since Estonian new independence when prostitution is neither criminalized nor legalized (that is, the selling of and buying of a sexual service is not a crime but prostitution is not considered a profession either).

On the first of June 1919, so-called morality guarding, or censoring institution in the bigger cities replaced censoring police. Attitudes to the organization of prostitution derived mainly from health considerations. That was not sufficiently successful and in May 1920, obligatory measures to fight prostitution and STDs were issued. Those regulations linked the activities of the “morality guards” to the activities of police, as it was realized that prostitution and criminality were“closely connected’.
On the 16 of December 1927 the Parliament accepted a new law of “Managing Public Health” which handed the fight against prostitution over to the Health and Social Support Department. The police were obliged to give necessary practical help.

Because prostitution was legal in 1918-1940, the data from that period is remarkably precise and allows giving an adequate overview of the phenomenon. The number of prostitutes had been relatively stable throughout that period, showing only a slight increase.
For instance, in 1919 and 1920, there were 1187 and 1141 registered prostitutes in Estonian cities, and the number remained the same until the 1930s.
Prostitution mainly spread in the greater cities, Tallinn and Tartu, but also in Narva and Parnu. The proportion in other cities was very modest. There were 387 permanent prostitutes registered in Tallinn in 1920, and 455 in 1940. In Tartu, the numbers were 53 in 1922 and 156 in 1938.
There were also illegal, unregistered individual prostitutes of whom there is very little and non-systematic data. In the mid-1920s the number of Estonian hidden prostitutes was estimated to be up to 2000-2500. Police measures were predominantly directed to uncovering and registering this contingent, because unlike the registered prostitutes, neither unofficial prostitute not their clients went through regular medical check-ups.

Prostituting took place mainly in “pleasure flats” where the woman was operating as a “free tenant”. Each of these apartments had approximately 4-9 women. In 1940, there were 47 of such apartments registered. The majority (90%) of Tallinn prostitutes in the beginning of the 1920s were Estonians, 8 % were Russian
and the rest other nationalities. Thirty % up to 20 years old, but the largest group was 20-25 years old (about 50%) and 26-30 years old were represented at around 15%. About 30% were born in Tallinn, 60% from elsewhere in Estonia and about 10% from abroad.

Along with Estonia's occupation by the Soviet Union, attitudes to prostitution changed drastically. Legalization of prostitution was replaced by total denial and was made criminal. For instance, Tallinn City Moral Censoring Unit and Ambulatory of STDs which had been controlling the prostitutes and their health, was now liquidated on the 16 of November 1940, only a few months after occupation. Prostitutes who were registered at the police were repressed as “ socially alien beings” and were listed, along with thousands of other people, to be deported from Estonia in 1941.

During the Soviet period, pornography, prostitution and organizing prostitution were criminalized and belonged to the phenomena called parasitic lifestyle. There were three relevant paragraphs in the Criminal Law: Criminal Code of Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (ESSR) (paragraph 200) - preparing or distributing a pornographic item; paragraph 201 - keeping a brothel; paragraph 201-3 - begging, vagrant or the parasitic lifestyle.

Pimping was not considered in the Criminal Law of ESSR. In reality those paragraphs that were related to prostitution were hardly ever used. The reason was absence of prostitution as a mass phenomenon in Soviet Estonia and indifference to it from that part of the government. In Tallinn, only type of systematically operating prostitutes existed - the so-called “foreign currency prostitutes” who were only serving foreigners. Since the KGB kept a vigilant eye on foreigners, the activities of those prostitutes were only feasible with the knowledge and control of this structure. There are some reasons to suggest that some prostitutes serving foreigners used as informants
of KGB.

Certain changes started in the mid-1980s when the first signs of private businesses emerged. That also brought along differentiation of incomes. The increase in the relations with foreigners had a great impact on the following processes. Due to the rise in prostitution, a new administrative liability for the activity was introduced in 1987. In 1998, the militia registered over 268 females whom had been caught performing sexual services for money in hostels and hotels.


The socioeconomic situation of women in Estonia is generally worse than this of men. Important difference maker is the gender segregation on the labor market. Women are mostly in occupations, which have less prestige and smaller average salary, like teachers, health and social workers, shop and market sales workers. They rarely work as high-level managers and top specialists. Men have better salaries and power positions.

Men are more active in starting private businesses. Researches show that women have less self-confidence in their business abilities - 38% of women and 56% of men think they can run their own business, and 3% of women and 8% of men do it.
The most of labor force are working as wage laborers. Average salary of women is about ¼ less, last decade shows the growth of that difference. Percentage of women's hourly salary of men's hourly salary (100%): 1992 - 79.8%; 1995 - 73.3%; 1997 - 72.0%. The biggest is difference in salaries of service and sales workers (3/4 are women) - 63.2% (1997) and the smallest in salaries of public officials 90.2% (1997). None of the fields is it equal or in favor of women.

Unemployment rate has grown rapidly in 1990s, at first it was equal rates, since 1995 there has been more unemployed men than women. Age, nationality, region, urban/rural environment, education make important differences. According the age is unemployment rate highest among youth (15-24 years).
A research on gymnasium student’s labor expectations shows that boys tend to choose their future occupation according their interests and economic efficiency, while girls choose according cultural stereotype of feminine, and these fields are the least paid.

Human rights and women's rights - Estonian Parliament has signed international conventions Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1992), the Social Charter of European Commission has caused much discussions (especially paragraphs of equality and equal pay) in Estonian Parliament and has not been accepted yet. Estonian SSR law of trade unions exists from 1989.


Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, unforeseen opportunities for all sorts of activities opened up for the people. The beginning of the 1990s saw the commencement of the first undertakings offering sexual services in rented apartments. Such undertakings offered services on the premises (as a rule, the conditions were rather meager) or the possibility to order girls by phone to hotel rooms, to private parties etc.

Due to the sudden opportunity to talk openly about sexual life, the phenomenon enjoyed a short-term open acceptance in the early 1990s in the form of erotic dancer's competitions being transmitted on national television, rather liberal views spreading not just in the newly founded soft porn magazines, but even in some newspapers which for instance could contain articles on historical and political matters next to articles recounting sexual stories.

Uncontrolled sex business activities peaked in 1994-1995 and started to decrease from 1996, in relation to the changes in legislation, formation of a more stable market situation and changes in the public opinion towards the more negative. Also, small firms and undertakings ran out of business and prostitutes had to relocate into hotels, saunas, night clubs and other businesses that officially had other purposes.

The phenomenon has mainly disappeared from the public arena and has been linked to the criminal world. Prostitution and the sex business tend to be financed, controlled and regulated by organized criminal structures, with the help of corrupt officials; this makes it difficult to identify the houses that accommodate such undertakings. Prostitutes do not reveal much of the background of their jobs. Which not only further obstructs the control, but also the study as such phenomena. Classical forms of prostitution combine with the other forms of the sex business, to such an extent that it is often impossible to draw clear lines between prostitution and such activities as escort services, strip-tease bars, premises providing different types of erotic massage and erotic and pornographic magazines and films.

Also, changes in the geography of the service occurred. The sex business is now firmly located in Tallinn, other bigger cities (Tartu, Narva) and holiday or summer resorts (Parnu, Haapsalu) where there are more wealthy clients (tourists, foreigners). Prostitution has crossed the borders of Estonia, with the numbers of girls searching for a better income abroad (Finland, Germany, Holland).

The exact number of brothels and sex service firms and the number of woman employed
are very difficult to estimate because the situation changes daily. Today, there are approximately 50 - 70 brothels in Tallinn and a few in the other major cities (Narva, Pärnu - summer resort, Tartu). Between 5 and 20 women work in each brothel.
In summer time a lot of sex employees move their businesses to summer resort Pärnu, because during summer season it’s a thousands of tourists from abroad visit this city.

The migration
of sex business employees (mostly Estonian and Russian origin) from Estonia to Finland, Germany and Sweden as well as to other countries has increased, especially after cancellation of visa requirements to several countries (last example - Schenghen countries).
The customers of sex business in Tallinn and Pärnu are primarily visitors from Finland, Sweden and other Europe countries also local Estonian and Russian men. Finnish sex magazines, for example, carry detailed articles about Estonian brothels, telephone numbers and prices.

Procuring and pimps
are totally common. Prostitution is clearly a part of organized crime and the drug trade in Estonia. The advertisements with invitations for sex work to the Dutch, German, Finnish sex clubs are very common in Estonian (Russian and Estonian language) newspapers.
The main motivation for young women and girls are economical reasons, financial support of parents, families, children, solving individual economic problems, one part of the girls come to the sex business with only one reason - to earn money for buying drugs.

The average pimp has little regard for the sex worker health, and with the large number of young women involved; intervention is still very difficult. There are call girls, sex firms as apartments, saunas, brothels and massage saloons, with advertising of their activities in local newspapers with contact telephone numbers.

Street prostitution
like phenomenon (as it exists in Latvia, Sankt Petersburg or Helsinki) does not exist in Tallinn. But NGO’s, working with risk group’s reports growing number of cases, when adolescent street children offer sexual services mostly for foreign tourists in
area of harbor and big supermarkets.

Male prostitution
in Estonia is quite more hidden and taboo issue in mass media and society. It is no estimation how much young men work in sex business, even work in abroad. In Estonia it is mostly concentrated in capital and can be divided on four main parts:

Brothels sauna’s massage parlors prostitution
3-4 years ago usually only in biggest brothels and clubs was possible to “order” the male prostitute, mainly man working for the female clients.  Last observations of local advertisement in news paper clearly shows that in Tallinn at the moment work one brothel, where the boys provide sexual services only for men proposing in their adverts massage, escort etc. They constantly put work announcements on gay or date web pages, spread their stickers in gay sauna, bars, and hotels.
Also in Tallinn works from 2 to 4 saunas, massage saloons where sex workers from both genders provide sexual services for clients  - men and women, depending from the client wish. In general prices for male sex worker services is 1,5-2 bigger then a female prostitutes.

Internet prostitution
It is comparatively remarkable number of advertisements in Internet - from the unambiguous proposal various kind of sex activities for money to request for dating with wealthy men, who have no problem with financial resources and can “support” them.
Sometimes young boys through the Internet search for older men, who can finance their studies, pay for apartments or cover their debts, proposing to pay, having sex relations (temporary or long time) with them. Also some young guys search for the jobs in travel, model agencies, striptease bars and ask for the roles in pornographic movies.
Quite often were observed proposals for anal and oral sex without condoms for a bigger amount of money.
Very common also advertisements of clients, including foreigners, in Internet with the promises to pay for guide, escort services for young men during weekends.

Weekend prostitution
Because of very small gay scene in Estonia - the only cities, which have some gay clubs and bars, are Tallinn and Tartu - a lot of young men, including students during the weekend come to Tallinn for few days. Sometimes in Internet they suggest to pay for getting them by car to capital having sex with client, sometimes they ask about place to stay for some nights and promise to pay having sexual intercourse with owner of apartment.

Sex work abroad
The part of the sex workers working abroad is not estimated and probably is not very significant, but through the partners of sex workers projects network the specialists from AIDS Information & Support Center receive information about some cases of working in sex business mostly in Scandinavia, but also in Germany, Spain and Denmark.

Last year was overviewed the case when 20 years old men was forced into the “fake” marriage to Denmark, by older wealthy architecture from Arhus and was actually put in conditions of slavery, working in country house without money and possibility to call home. Fortunately after 3 months, the young men return home with the help of his elder brother, who lived in Sweden. 


Changes have also taken place in the structure of prostitution, most noticeably in the age and ethnic background of sex business employees.
Whereas in the beginning of the rise of prostitution there was en equal number of Estonians and Russians involved, the share of non - Estonians at present is considerably larger. This has evidently been caused by integration problems on their part.

As far as the migration of prostitution is concerned, it should be pointed out that sex business employees of Estonian nationality now proceed mostly to Stockholm or Berlin (no visa needed, tough competition on the «Finnish» market between woman from the Baltic states and Russia, Russian sex business employees continue working in Finland).

Then prostitution was at its peak, more then half of the sex workers were under 18, and now their share has dropped to 26-27%. At the same time constantly the cases of only 15 or 16 ears aged sex workers have been observed, the youngest girl, who was visited “Seastar-I” project services in Tallinn was 14 years old. Approximately half of the sex business employees based in Tallinn come from other regions with high unemployment rate.

During the “SEASTAR” project period (01.12.1996 to 31.09.1999), nearly 1200 sex workers were counseled and given information on safer sex. A total of 382 sex workers filled in an anonymous questionnaire on their first visit; on the basis of these questionnaires the following conclusions can be drawn:


It is no special law concerning prostitution in Estonia.

It is no national policy of the state (or ministry of justice, ministry of health etc.) and no any state programs or financed by state projects regarding prostitution.

Unexpectedly effective has been paragraph 201 of the Penal Code “Allowing illegal activities in a persons dwelling”, due to which many brothel keepers, especially female ones or former prostitutes gave up their activities. Paragraph 202 of Penal Code “Involvement of minors in criminal activities or prostitution” has also had a positive effect, though it would be bigger if the police had better means of enforcing it. Paragraph 202 of the Criminal Code on banning pimping can be considered a truly progressive step in the development of our legislation. But at the same time we find out that big number of owners just change the “sign” and reopen new brothels under new one - saunas, massage saloons etc.

From 1 of September 2002 was entered into the force new legislation:
Provision of opportunity to engage in unlawful activities, or pimping. (PC Art. 268) - Pimping, or providing premises for the purposes
of illegal consumption of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, for organizing illegal gambling, or for prostitution, is punishable by
a pecuniary punishment or up to 3 year’s of imprisonment. For an offence provided for in this section, the court may impose a fine to the extend of assets as a supplementary punishment pursuant to Art. 53 of this Code

Unfortunately, its looks that police deal with cases only if they have operative information about adolescent girls in brothels or drug use.
It is not enough attention for the trafficking itself and very few investigation regarding pimping or involvement in prostitution.

Although its enforcement is complicated and the number of court cases, which really punish the pimps and owners by years in imprisonment is very little, a mere existence of this law ended the virtually useless discussions on legalizing or banning prostitution, neither of which is a constructive solution. The discussion about legislation in our Parliament roll over and rules only in one way - the range of taxes, which the state wish collect from the sex business employees.

It should be pointed that providing social and medical services for sex workers is still not in agenda of the state. Till beginning of year 2003 it was only one temporary (3 months financing) attempt to organize services for sex workers, financially supported and initiated by Tallinn City Government, which has no remarkable success. Notwithstanding the fact, that working with high-risk groups such as sex workers is one of the aims of National AIDS Prevention Program accepted by Ministry of Social Affaires, for the year 2003 financial resources for implementation of any activities are not allocated in budget. Till this moment EU programs, international networks, SOROS foundations and other funds and agencies from abroad financially supported all projects and services, all activities

Meretäht- Meritähti - Seastar I
Prevention of Migratory Prostitution in Cross Border Regions
01.12.1996 - 01.09.1999

Since October 1996 for September 1999 this work has been carried out, within the framework of the project “SEASTAR” -
Prevention of Migratory Prostitution in Cross Border Regions, which was a Finnish-Estonian joint project, financed partly by EU and partly by Helsinki Deaconess Institute. The SEASTAR project was the part of UMBRELLA NETWORK projects,
co-coordinated by SPI (Social Pädagogischen Institute in Berlin, Germany). Partner organization from Finland, who implemented the projects, was Pro-tukipiste
Within the framework of SEASTAR sex workers receive the following assistance:

    * Free advising on safer sex and HIV/STD prevention
    * Free tests on HIV and STDs
    * Free treatment of STDs
    * Free counseling of the specialists (venerologist, narcologist etc.)
    * Free legal, social and psychological assistance.

The state AIDS Prevention Center participates in the project as a coordinator, offering just methodological
assistance to the project staff.
During the report period (01.12.1996 to 31.09.1999), nearly 1200 sex workers were counseled, tested on HIV/STI and given
information on safer sex.

In Tallinn, customer work has focused on providing health services, counseling, safer sex education and outreach work at the first half of the period at Helsinki and Tallinn, later at Tallinn only.
Counseling, medical examinations, safer sex education, specialist consultations (venerologist, gynecologist, narcologist, psychologist) for sex workers were arranged at the AIDS Information and Support Center.
The center provides doctors surgery hours six days in the week (in the afternoon).
Condoms, lubricants, safer sex informative materials, leaflets about safer kinds of work, about services in both countries, has been distributed on fieldwork visits and in center.

Staff and volunteers of the center have long time experience of voluntary work. During our visits to Helsinki sex bars (Kings Kakadu, Mermaid, Mikado) and on the streets, during field work once a week in Tallinn we spread more then 1000 safer sex «gifts» with the various kinds of condoms, lubricants and informative materials about activities of both services in Tallinn and Helsinki.


01.12.1996 - 01.09.1999

447 sex workers - first visitors:

01.12.1996 - 31.08.1998  
01.09.1998 - 01.09.1999  
 01.12.1996 - 01.09.1999   

Nr of patients  
% of the first visitors 
Nr of patients  
% of the first visitors  Nr of patients  
% of the first visitors 
Herpes gen.   

341 sex workers - multiply visitors:

01.12.1996 - 31.08.1998  
01.09.1998 - 01.09.1999  
 01.12.1996 - 01.09.1999   

Nr of patients  
% of the first visitors 
Nr of patients  
% of the first visitors  Nr of patients  
% of the first visitors 
Herpes gen.   

Medical examination was given to 788 sex workers, out of whom 451 were first visitors and 337 multiply visitors. Totally nearly 35 % of the girls, consulted and examined medically during their first visits were discovered minimum one sexually transmitted disease.
Nearly 45% of those sex workers, who visits center through the project, were diagnosed candida and gardnerella.
The corresponding figures among multiply visitors were decreased considerably, especially when the girls come regularly.

Totally nearly 8-9 % of the girls, consulted and examined medically during the multiply visits are discovered minimum one sexually transmitted disease. 18 % of these girls were diagnosed candida and gardnerella.
The reason why multiply visitors are still discovered to have so many diseases is that very often they get infected when not working or because they fall victim of sexual violence when working

No other non-profit organizations deal with the problem of prostitution. Over the years there have been few cases when sex workers have turned to the Crisis Intervention Center assistance or psychologists but by no means can such work be considered systematic.
Sex workers have also turned to different STD specialists but they have received only medical help for charge, not advising, training or psychological and social help.
Unfortunately this project was never been supported or financed by the state.

Harm Reduction Project Among Sex Workers Intravenous Drug Users

Sex workers - drug addicts is quite new phenomena in our society and the number of sex workers -IDU-s increased remarkably at the last two years. The needs of sex workers - IDU-s are specific, comparatively with others IDU-s, who are mostly man.
Previous activities during last six years in work with sex-workers shows, that during last two years the number of IDU-s among sex-workers increased dramatically from 1% in 1994 to 18% of sex workers IDU-s in period 1996-1999.
Experience of the work with IDU-s shows, that the sex workers IDU-s contribute special activities and measures, including not only needle exchange, but counseling about STD-s and safer sex.
Previous work shows, that it is better to provide services to sex workers IDU-s separately from other IDU-s, who are mostly men and have different habits.

The problems of prostitution, trafficking of women and girls inside and outside the borders become more and more serious and dangerous. From the year 2001 center start the 2-year “Harm Reduction Project Among Sex Workers Intravenous Drug Users, financially supported by IHRD, Open Society Institute from New York and our own resources and still no any financial support from the state.

The approach of the project was:
The main goal of the project was:

To prevent the spreading HIV/AIDS infection among sex workers - drug users and in the future to prevent spreading of infection
from IDU mother to child.

The project was implemented with following aims and objectives:

For this purposes following measures were undertaken by team of the project with collaboration of other partners:

Project staff

included 3 persons: project leader, 2 medical doctors, and two outreach workers -medical nurses.

Previous experience of AIDS Information & Support Center shows that the main difficulty is stigmatization of such groups in society, like sex workers and IDU-s. So sex workers who are at the same time the drug addicts are double stigmatized. Social support of that targeted group faced with the ignorance and opposition of decision-makers, and finally of all society.
One main measure for changing opinion of society is work with mass media.  Project workers have a useful experience in organizing media campaigns and use this method in future for creating tolerance and support.
For these efforts they build co-operation with National AIDS Prevention Center and National Drug Prevention Program.
Project workers tried to prove to governmental structures and decision-makers the importance and necessity of such kind of work.
After end of project results we hope to apply continuing financing from governmental recourses. Very important side of this project is to take advocacy efforts with aim to guarantee human and sexual rights of young women, involved in sex business and drug use.

The greatest outreach, harm reduction and service needs for the SW IDUs clients looks as follows:
From the working with SW IDU-s project workers find that the part of the adolescent girls are quite bigger, especially if we talk about this girls, who don’t work in usual locations (bars, clubs, saunas etc), but sell sex for earning money for drugs. In last year the part of Estonian speaking IDU-s was growing, same process was happened among sex workers IDU-s.

Other health and drug-related risks:
Through the contacts with sex workers IDU-s we have now quite clear picture about kinds of drug use, the “brothels” sex workers IDU-s use mostly amphetamines, also inject heroin, take tablets, smoke marihuana and other group, working in occasional places, old houses, street, use mostly heroin.

The first group works in saunas, sex clubs, hotels, massage saloons, striptease clubs and use drugs to keep themselves in “working” conditions, the others work in apartments, old, ruined houses, streets, drug users gathering places, cars, toilets etc. and use received payment for immediate acquisition of the drugs.

During 1996-1999 years fortunately the workers of projects don’t find the HIV positive sex workers, but during last 1,5-year situation changed, already are diagnosed more then ten women, who are HIV positive drug users and sell sex for drugs. More of that, some man, which were founded infected through the HIV/STD testing in our center for general public (not drug addicts themselves) give us information, that they are sure that they were infected by prostitutes.

Unfortunately the group of sex workers IDU-s from bars, clubs, saunas, brothels is affected by their clients, who ask unprotected sex and are ready to pay 2-3 times more for that. Because in those cases sex workers don’t need to pay this “additional” money for pimps, guards, and other mediators - the girls very often agreed to serve clients without condoms. Other groups of young girls, who sell themselves for drugs or for money to apply drugs is affected by immediate need earn money and buy drugs. Some of them don’t use condoms at all, motivation to buy condoms is very weak, and it looks that for that group extremely important to guarantee free condoms and lubricants.

As result of project promotion City Government of Tallinn and Ministry of Social Affaires gave additional financial resources for needle exchange in Eastern part of Estonia, which is mostly affected by epidemic of HIV.
It was allowed to open 6 additional needle exchange sites for IDU-s in region (May 2001). The staff of opened sites was trained for needle exchange and counseling of IDU-s and SW particularly. Local sex workers now have possibility to visit these new sites in Narva (additional mobile unit), Sillamäe, Kohtla-Järve, Jõhvi, Ahtme, Kiviõli.

Biggest success is the first signs of acceptance of harm reduction ideology by government and policy makers. As result of this, first time through HIV/AIDS era the state gave finances for needle exchange program, what include particularly services for sex workers too.
Neighbor countries in Baltic region, especially Finland and Sweden began to put more attention for serious situation with HIV, drug use problems in Estonia and try to support some activities.
The government should give a special attention to these problems in a frame of extremely fast spread of HIV infection in last year.
Before year 2000 total number of HIV positive people as nearly 100. In year 2000  - 390 new HIV cases and 3 AIDS cases were founded, in year 2001 - 1474 HIV cases and 7 AIDS cases, and in 2002 year 899 new cases, including 224 in prisons. Nearly 30% from new infections in 2002 were women. All together 2859 HIV positive people were diagnosed, 11 people diagnosed AIDS.
Nearly 70% of new infections this year were young people in the age of 15-24 years. They are mostly intravenous drug addicts.

It should be pointed that that it is clear epidemic situation among drug users, especially in age 15-24 years old and it is constantly growing number of infected women. The infected drug users are in the age of high sexual activity and very common situation is follows: young boys IDUs, which was founded HIV positive, who live in Ida-Virumaa (Narva, Kohtla-Jarve) has a girlfriends, who work on temporary basis in capital (sometimes in sex business). It is alarming situation and because that situation contribute immediate and common measures. The last tendency in HIV statistics shows that it is constant growing of number of cases, when HIV spread through sexual way.


Drop-in Center For Sex Workers, located in premises of AIDS Information & Support Center was opened in October 2002 with financial support of Mama Cash Foundation  (The Netherlands), Embassy of Finland in Tallinn, methodological help of AIDS Prevention Center (GO) and advisory from GENDERS Center (Riga, Latvia)

Through consultations and fieldwork with sex workers, and research of trafficking of women and girls team of AIDS Information & Support Center faced the immediate necessity to create premises for case management and urgent help for them.
It is two rooms for that purposes located on Kopli street 32, Tallinn.  Kitchen, WC/shower room, TV, computer (in future), press, literature, condoms, lubricants etc. This center open 5-7 days in a week for four-six hours. For extraordinary situations it is possible to provide temporary lodging for 1-2 persons. Project includes 2 workers medical nurses.

The main aims of the project are

to create confidential, culturally and linguistically appropriated anonymous services for sex workers - drop-in center on daily basis, possibility to talk about problems, receive literature on safer sex, condoms and lubricants, consultation on reproductive health, medical advice, psychological consultation, wash clothes, get coffee/snacks, have a shower, referrals to venerologist, gynecologist, therapist, video/TV.

In different reception hours confidential, personal and anonymous services for possible victims and case management for victims of trafficking - drop-in hours for trafficked women and lectures for possible victims, legal consultations, informational services (computer) - background of firms, details of legal work abroad, computer courses, video/TV (special films about trafficking), language lessons, temporary financial help (if possible), consultations of psychologist, self-help groups.

Following objectives were followed for implementation of the project:

Expected results will be:

Activities planned and at the moment partly implemented:

Meretäht-Seastar II project
HIV/STD Prevention Among Sex Workers

The goal of the project “MERETÄHT-Seastar II project

HIV/STD Prevention Among Sex Workers” financially supported by Family Health International from USA is prevention of HIV/STI among sex workers, reducing the number of STDs among sex workers in Tallinn, increasing the level of safer sex knowledge.

The following strategies and activities, confidential, anonymous, culturally and linguistically appropriate services for sex workers were implemented in one year period:
Regular information (on monthly basis) is constantly collected about number of project visitors, their location, time of involvment in the sex business, age, nationality, educational background, condom use, alcohol, drug and tobacco use etc. For monitoring the use of services and to better understand the needs sex workers, a questionnaire which was implemented will be analysed at the end of the project. 
At the end of the project comparative statistic data about age, education, ways of involvement , sex work conditions (violence, sexual abuse questions), drug use, alcohol use, condom use, location etc of the women in sex business will be collected and analysed.
Also the epidemiological data concerning HIV, STD will be collected and analysed, comparing first and multiplyed visits (influence of safer sex education, condoms use).

The project is supervised

by Dr Nelli Kalikova from AIDS Prevention Center and Dr Tatjana Kurova from GENDERS center from Riga. Activities with
trafficked women can be coordinated by Kvinnoforum from Sweden.

Project team includes 3 persons:

project manager, doctor and medical nurse outreach worker.

During first 8 month of project were served 164 first time visitors and 104 multiply visits that receive even one medical procedure.
Total number of contacts with sex workers was closely to 350 including medical services but also safer sex education and condom, literature, lubricants distribution and visits for drop-in. For sex workers during reception, drop-in center open hours, outreach work and using peer-educators the total number of 4500 condoms were distributed.
Also in period October 2002-December 2002 male sex workers start to visit the project and received some medical services. It was 7 first time visits and 15 multiply visits, male sex workers were mostly interested in condoms, lubricants and testing on STI’s.

Family Health International will to continue financial support for this project additional year from April 2003.
With the aim to find additional resources for the services for sex workers project manager undertakes following measures:
Participate in writing project proposal for the Global AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Fund with the help of international expert and in collaboration with CCM (Country Coordination Mechanism group), which was created with participation of Ministry of Social Affaires. Positive result was announced in late January.
AIDS Information & Support Center participate in project proposal competition for Health Department, announced by Tallinn’s City Government with the purpose of providing services for sex workers in November 2002 for the period of 3 months (it was first attempt of local city government to response the problem of prostitution at all. Unfortunately, for the several reasons - not acceptance of NGO for the participation in principal; burocratic procedure (24 documents requested); breaking the rules of tender - the winner, Lasnamae Polyclinic have not 3 years experience working with sex workers, like it was required in the rules - for this reasons the Center don’t receive this additional financing. The results - just few visitors to site of Lasnamae Polyclinic period of 1,5 month, negative reaction of society, because the wrong way of advertising project activities in mass-media and society, very low interest in service from sex


It is very hard to estimate the number of trafficked woman in our country, because it is no official statistics and no special research provided on this issue. There are two ways of trafficking in woman in Estonia:
Inside the country, when the girls enforced to go to the capital and bigger cities from the country side and small cities (mostly from Ida-Virumaa with bigger part of Russian speaking inhabitants and higher rate of unemployment)
Outside the country, when the woman can be trafficked crosses the borders to the other country.

Estonia is mostly country of origin of trafficked woman and in some way country of destination, because in prostitution in Tallinn and bigger cities are involved previously young girls from the countryside and smaller cities. If 5-7 years ago it was a number of cases when the woman was coming from Byelorussia, Russia, Latvia, now nearly all trafficked woman are local. Thanks to stronger border regulation the number of foreigners trafficked is insignificant.

The ways of trafficking are various: we have a wide range of destinations of trafficked women from Estonia. But most «popular» are: Finland, Sweden, Poland, Holland, Spain, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Germany. But we have also information about other
destinations like Thailand, Greece, Cyprus, Japan, and USA.

They are trafficked for the following purposes:

Very often women, failed by promises of high income, security, medical insurance, good work conditions, are have no intentions to work like prostitutes, but the situation, they find out their selves in abroad, put them make very difficult choices, which arise from absence of legal status (tourist visas, end of visas, passports), financial situation (no money for the return home); physical or psychological violence, blackmail.

The main way of recruiting women is the advertising of «marriage agencies», «employment companies», and straight invitations for sex work in 3 main advertising newspapers - Kuldne Börss, SOOV, Privat-INFO, one weekly magazine - Den Za Dnjom and one sex magazine MAJA, also from the working prostitutes from existing brothels and clubs. It is very few individuals who work independently on sex market, it is all the time some mediator (pimp, owner of club, driver, bodyguard etc.) between sex worker and client. The attempts of some women began to work individually, advertising they phone number in papers, are mostly ends by fiasco because of threatening by violence and financial racket.

The traffickers are mostly local, previously criminal persons; often ex-prostitutes; also on this field are very active traffickers from Finland, Russia, Germany, and Holland etc.
It is the clear linkages between traffickers from country of origin (Estonians, Russians) and countries of destination (owners of clubs, agencies, hotels, bars etc.)
In a society exist very different attitudes regarding the problem of trafficking in woman, violence and prostitution. But if 3-5 years ago the tone of articles and reports in mass media was totally sensational, now prostitution theme is quite «usual», but it still less awareness about trafficking.

Estonian Penal Code does not specify trafficking of human beings or trafficking in woman as a single valued crime. However that could be criminalized in concurrence of offenses:

Division 6: Offences Against Liberty

Enslaving (PC Art. 133) -

Placing a human being, through violence or deceit, in a situation where he or she is forced to work or perform other duties against his or her will for the benefit of another person, or keeping a person in such situation, is punishable by 1 to 5 year’s imprisonment

The same act, if committed:

against two or more persons, or
against a person of less than 18 years of age
is punishable by 3 to 12 year’s of imprisonment.

Abduction (PC Art. 134) -
Taking or leaving a person, through violence or deceit, in a state where it is possible to persecute or humiliate him or her on grounds of race or gender or for other reasons, and where he or she lacks legal protection against such treatment and does not have the possibility to leave the state, is punishable by a pecuniary punishment or up to 5 year’s imprisonment.

The same act, if committed:

against two or more persons, or
against a person of less than 18 years of age
is punishable by 2 to 10 year’s of imprisonment.

Chapter 11: Offences Against Family and Minors

Sale or purchase of children (PC Art. 173)  -

the sale or purchase of children is punishable by 1 to 5 year’s of imprisonment. The same act, if committed by a legal person, is punishable by a pecuniary punishment.

Chapter 16: Offences Against Public Peace:

Illegal crossing of state border or temporary border line of Republic of Estonia (PC Art. 258) -

Illegal crossing of the state border or temporary border line of Republic of Estonia, if committed:
is punishable by a pecuniary punishment or up to one year of imprisonment

The same act, if committed:

is punishable by 4 to 12 year’s of imprisonment.

Provision of opportunity to engage in unlawful activities, or pimping. (PC Art. 268) -

Pimping, or providing premises for the purposes of illegal consumption of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, for organizing illegal gambling, or for prostitution, is punishable by a pecuniary punishment or up to 3 year’s of imprisonment. For an offence
provided for in this section, the court may impose a fine to the extend of assets as a supplementary punishment pursuant to Art. 53 of this Code

Also offences can be combined with rape (PC Art. 115) or sexual passion satisfaction in an unnatural way (PC Art 115.1) or buggery (PC Art.118).

The special laws against trafficking in woman do not exist.

It is no remarkable pressure to develop this kind of laws from Parliament, politicians or woman organization. The interest and concern of state institutions such as ministries of justice, health, foreign affairs and social affairs are very weak.

It is no any legislation or regulation concerning enforced marriages or marriages on convenience. The General Assembly adopted the UN United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in November 2000. The Convention is currently supplemented by two Protocols, one is trafficking in persons and one is on smuggling in persons. Estonia signed the Convention on 4 December 2002, which has entered into force on 19 January 2003. Estonia is going to sign the both Protocols in the near future.

Judicial co-operation for these offenses are possible also under Council of Europe conventions in criminal field, ratified by Estonia in 1997. The trafficker - being a citizen of Estonia - can be penalized when the crime was committed in another country, because Estonia ratified the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons on 26 of February 1997, in force since 01.08.1997.


The special programs or separate projects for the prevention and education regarding trafficking in woman, initiated or supported by the state, do not exist.
The first NGO, which start to deal with awareness about this issue 5-6 years ago and the prevention and education projects, including services for trafficked woman was the NGO AIDS Information and Support Center (AIDS-i Tugikeskus).

STOP-1 and STOP-2 projects (1998-2000), initiated by STAKES - Finnish National Research and Development Center For Welfare and Health - - and Finnish Ministry of Interior Affaires involved some Estonian state institutions (police, prosecutors, border guards, schools, social and health sector civil servants) but only on issue of prevention of sexual abuse and involvement in prostitution the minors (under 18 years old).

“Training and Capacity Building Against Trafficking in woman and Girls in the Baltic Sea Region” project

From March 2000 AIDS Information and Support Center in cooperation with NGO-s from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia and Lithuania implemented 1-year project «Training and Capacity Building Against Trafficking in woman and Girls in the Baltic Sea Region» - project, initiated by Kvinnoforum from Sweden and financed by Daphne initiative.

The general aim of the project was two folded: 

Firstly to enhance the capacity of work related to trafficking among local NGOs interested and working with women at risk of being trafficked or victims of it.
Secondly to develop the network between these organizations in the Baltic Sea Region.

This aim was reached through fulfilling the following objectives:

Activities of the project:

Training workshops

Two-days workshop in each of the Baltic countries and a one day workshop for each of the Nordic countries were organized.

For the participation at the national seminar in Estonia were invited 33 persons, from which 22 persons attended. Notwithstanding of several attempts some invitations have no response  (police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, border officials). In process of preparing workshop we find out the fact, that at this moment (July 2000) and unfortunately at the present no one person in police is responsible for the work with prostitution and trafficking. Continuous staff replacement, corruption, priority on dealing with problems of growing drug use rule finally for the situation, that the special group (Narkopolitsei), some of specialists of which deals with prostitution and trafficking cases just sign out this issue from their responsibilities. The specialists of Consular department and border officials have a very weak impression about trafficking like phenomena with comments like “it is not our problems”.     

To the seminar were invited mostly the members of existing NGOs, which meet or can meet through they work the issue of prostitution and trafficking, some persons from governmental institutions. On seminar was video film “Bought and Sold” was presented. The members of Baltic network Rima Praspaliauskiene from “Praeties Pedos” Lithuania, Tatjana Kurova and Rimma Kurova from GENDERS Center from Latvia were participated in seminar

Seminar includes 2 days of lectures, workshops, discussion, the focus of the first day - main presentation about phenomena of trafficking of human/trafficking of women, lectures of joint network members. The second day consists discussions, workshops and evaluation.
Concrete results: The basis of the national network against trafficking of women was formed, the main tasks were defined, the e-mail list was formed (including also not presented on the workshop organizations and persons), exchange of reports about situation in other Baltic States aware understanding of global character of trafficking. The work, implemented before the workshop, receives new impulses for the new kind of activities.


The NFP were network with other NGOs and organizations locally and regionally.
According to the needs of each country the NFP focus their work on other activities throughout the year. These activities are optional and may include lectures, contacts with media, lobbying among politicians and decision-makers, writing articles or other.

Unfortunately the international project regarding trafficking in women starts without any help from the state. This project was continued for the first three months of 2001 with the financial help of Likestilling Senteret from Oslo, Norway


The aims of this successful short project were:

NGO AIDS Information and Support Center started two new trafficking prevention projects for youth at the end of 2002.

“Preventive -informative Campaign Against Trafficking in girls and women in Baltic States (Lithuania and Estonia)”
November 2002- September 2003

Project partners

Lithuanian Women’s NGO “Praeities Pedos” 
NGO AIDS Information and Support Center in Tallinn (AIDSi Tugikeskus)

Activities of the project:

Project for the Prevention of Adolescent Trafficking (PPAT- ESTONIA)

Project was developed by The International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA) in collaboration with NGO Living for Tomorrow and NGO AIDS Information & Support Center and financially supported by United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) .

This project proposes to replicate in Estonia already implemented “Project for the Prevention of Adolescent Trafficking in Latvia (PPAT-Latvia)” currently sponsored by the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM).   PPAT-Estonia is being developed in response to a growing body of evidence, which indicates that 1) trafficking is a burgeoning problem in Estonia, 2) the problem of trafficking is not being adequately addressed in Estonia, and 3) victims of trafficking in Estonia tend to be under the age of 25.  The goal of this project is to prevent the trafficking of adolescents in Estonia by raising awareness and educating youth about the issue of human trafficking and forced labour.  The project will also focus on building the capacity of local youth serving NGOs to educate youth on the issue of human trafficking and work to increase the cooperation between NGOs and the Estonian government on the issue of combating human trafficking.

Previous projects focusing on trafficking in Estonia have successfully established a network of NGOs committed to combating human trafficking.  This project will build upon that foundation by providing youth serving NGOs in this network with the training, skills, and tools to educate youth about the issue of human trafficking.  As a result of this project, youth throughout Estonia will have the opportunity to receive free consultations by trained and knowledgeable professionals before going abroad to work.  During the consultation with a trained counsellor, a file is created which contains a copy of the young person’s passport, his/her work contract, and contact information both at home and abroad.  During the consultation young people receive information on protecting themselves while working abroad, watch a film about working abroad safely and are advised how to check the legitimacy of their job offer. 
Implementing the PPAT model in Estonia is an important next step for the development of a cost-effective, sustainable, effective nationwide strategy to prevent human trafficking in Estonia.

The main goal of the project is to prevent the trafficking of adolescents in Estonia.

The main objectives of the PPAT-ESTONIA project are:

PPAT is a trafficking prevention program to be implemented nationally in Estonia over a one-year period.  PPAT aims to increase adolescents’ awareness of trafficking and forced labor in Estonia through several coordinated

1) To provide a forum for government leaders to share information and experience in regards to trafficking and forced labor in Estonia. 
2) To provide additional resources and training to government leaders who are not familiar with the issue of trafficking and forced labor.
3) To establish a link between the NGO sector and government leaders and policy makers regarding community based trafficking prevention programs, such as the Project for the Prevention of Adolescent Trafficking (PPAT-Estonia).
4) To develop a concrete Plan of Action at the national policy level regarding Estonia’s strategy to combat trafficking and forced labor. 

Monitoring and Evaluation of the impact of the PPAT-Estonia project

Several steps will be taken to monitor and document the progress that is being made on each activity and towards achieving the overall project goals. As previously mentioned the Youth Coordinator and Training Coordinator will monitor and evaluate staff during site visits.  In addition, the Youth Coordinator and Training Coordinator will work with an Evaluation Consultant to design data collection instruments (based on those successfully used in Latvia) to be administered to all young people who participate in PPAT activities at the youth centers.  Training will be provided to all local trainers to ensure that data collection surveys are properly administered.  Conducting pre- and post-tests with the young people who participate in the program will collect data collected on the impact of the education module, career workshops, and one-on-one consultations on the knowledge and attitudes of young people about trafficking.  Analysis of this data will provide important information on the efficacy of the PPAT trafficking prevention model.  A comparative analysis will also be conducted using this data from Estonia and previously collected data from PPAT-Latvia.


«The Ministry of Social Affairs has presented to the Government of the Republic the part of national program of the crime prevention «Establishment of the system to assist the victims of crimes». Association «Support and assistance for victims» have been established, also asylums. Consult for victims, fiscal benefits, help of crisis are arranged by the Social Rehabilitation Center and Association. Assistance for the victims and their families is not sufficiently good. Respective programs are not elaborated, specialists are not properly trained and economic problems are not solved yet.»
It is quote from official response of Ministry of Justice, which was edited for the Committee on Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities of European Parliament three years ago. Unfortunately it is no remarkable changes till that moment.

It is not special governmental program or projects regarding victims of trafficking in women. It is very few organizations, which provide some victim support. NGO Tartu Support Center for Children, Tallinn Child Support Center - for adolescent and NGO AIDS-i Tugikeskus (AIDS Information & Support Center)  - for the victims of sexual violence and rape on sex work (some psychological and social support, free tests on HIV/STD and medication, consultation of specialists - gynecologist, narcologist, venerologist etc.)


It is quite hard to estimate the amount of women who met the problem of violence in family, society, job place, during sex work etc.
There are no special help organizations for dealing with violence against women and no special statistics about it. According to Statistical yearbook of Estonia is a number of women in refuges and rehabilitation centers for domestic violence 171 in 1996, 161 in 1997, and it is the forth-biggest reason of going to refuge or rehabilitation centers.

Crisis Intervention Center in Tallinn has statistics that domestic violence is a reason for 1.9% (253 in 1994-1999) of women to ask for help.
Tartu Support Center for Abused Children has 30-40% of families with the problem of violence against women. They served altogether 399 families in 1999. The biggest problems of women in violent relationships are that they feel helpless and hopeless, hide domestic problems from colleagues and acquaintances, can’t see that their children suffer for same reasons and can’t help them, have long and undiagnosed depression, use alcohol instead of looking for effective solutions, lack of supporting friends.

But 30% of our sex workers visitors through the SEASTAR project (1996-1999) were sexually abused in the childhood (under 16 years of age). 40% of sex business employees who visited us, fall victim to violence and sexual abuse when working.

The sex workers are very often in situation of different kinds of dependence from the pimps, brothel or bars owners, traffickers etc.
Its can be illegal deprivation of liberty (in clubs, especially private houses, saunas, apartments); violence and sexual and physical abuse from clients and pimps; financial dependence from owners of brothels; or traffickers, who organize sex work abroad (travel costs, visa costs, accommodation costs, sometimes clothes and food); in way of financial punishment for “mistakes” during working with clients; social freedom deprivation - deduction of documents, blackmailing by informing the parents, partners, relatives of the girls “real job” - very often, especially in cases of the Ida-Virumaa girls, the parents, relatives, boyfriends don’t know about actual activities of the
young women in capital.


Sex work is to great extent connected with criminal world and an already harassed woman does not trust state structures, fearing punishment. Because of that the main projects activities implementers in this field and initiators were non-profit none governmental organizations.
The structure of a non-profit, non-governmental organizations is very flexible, it is used to untraditional approach, is located in the vicinity of a prostitutes -: street work, work with pimps, interventions through Internet etc.
The staff of a non-profit,  non-governmental organizations have received proper training, have a long-term experience, are customer friendly, which allows building up mutual trust.
NGO is an intermediate link between a sex workers and relatively stiff state structures, which, on the one hand, makes it possible to protect the interests of a sex workers  (medical, social and psychological) and, on the other hand, those of the state (alienation of minors from prostitution, co-operation with police structures, prevention of STDs and AIDS.
NGO usually has good contacts with the mass media, which allows of shaping public opinion and developing understanding and tolerance towards harassed and used women.