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Sex work is a relatively new phenomenon in Albania, dating from the early nineties. Trafficked are usually girls from rural areas, from families with very difficult financial situation. Trafficking is managed by organized crime syndicates whose interests are spread across Europe. Not all sex workers are trafficked. Sex work is a free choice of those sex workers who engage in the business as a result of the very difficult economical situation in the country.
The Penal Code anticipates a punishment varying from a simple fine up to three years of detention for persons practicing commercial sex. Before s this law was strictly enforced and it can be said that commercial sex work almost disappeared during that time.
A large number of families remained without the necessary economic means, in some cases suffering from extreme economic deprivation. The most affected strata were the population living in the rural area, the families that migrated from rural to the urban area and some ethnical minorities Roma people and Evgjite community. Many young girls from these population groups either become the target of human trafficking or freely decided to practice sex work in or outside the country as the sole way to obtain economic support.
There are no accurate estimates of their number. Governmental sources claim 5,, NGO sources up to 30, As a result, commercial sex started to be practiced in the country and to become visible. There have never been attempts to estimate their number. Usually the exploitation starts by rape. There are press articles reporting abuse and inhuman treatment of this category of CSW.
According to the information from Albanian Lesbian and Gay Association, there are also male sex workers from Roma population or Gypsy community who practice street sex work. According to press reports they are mostly students — one newspaper article claimed up to female students in Tirana alone practice sex work — girls from rural areas and other districts recently settled in Tirana and other big cities and CSW who returned from abroad. They operate illegally and there are frequent media articles reporting police detecting brothels and arresting CSW.