Kosovar Women Engaged in Prostitution: (The Consequences of) Being Defined as a Voluntary Prostitute

  • Roos de Wildt
Part of the Studies of Organized Crime book series (SOOC, volume 17)


Kosovar women engaged in prostitution in their home country in larger numbers when it became virtually impossible for foreign women to live in Kosovo and work in its sex industry. A large number of the Kosovar women who engaged in prostitution in bars were not identified as victims of trafficking by Kosovar law enforcement. Instead, these women were considered to be “voluntary prostitutes.” Their lived experiences are discussed in this chapter. The consequences of being identified as a “voluntary prostitute” will specifically be addressed. Those considered to be voluntary prostitutes have to deal with stigma and are denied healthcare attuned to their needs, as well as legal protection. The stigma results in the social exclusion of Kosovar women who engage in prostitution; they tend to be shunned by their family and the community at large. Their hindered access to health services, amongst other forms of assistance, results in limited condom use and a lack of treatment of sexually transmitted infections, which in turn affects the health of clients and their families. The denial of legal protection means that women rarely go to the police after they have been raped, robbed or encounter violence by clients or bar owners. The chapter puts forward that the attention paid to alleged victims of trafficking means that women who are not labelled as such are ignored, as they are considered voluntary prostitutes. But simple narratives about voluntary prostitutes obscure their negative experiences, thus making for “dangerous tales.”


Kosovo Kosovar women Prostitution Sex industry Peacekeeping Voluntary prostitute Stigma Social exclusion Violence Victims of trafficking 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roos de Wildt
    • 1
  1. 1.Verwey-Jonker InstituteUtrechtThe Netherlands

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