Boglárka Fedorkó

Boglárka Fedorkó first studied archaeology and economics and then became an activist as a Fellow of the Romaversitas program organizing youth exchanges and talks. After graduating, she began working for a sex worker advocacy organization. She is currently busy with a project on human trafficking and exploitation, working extensively with transgender women from various minorities who make living selling sex. “We are working with twelve partner organizations led by sex workers on a study that provides a much more nuanced picture of the exploitation of human trafficking. In the mainstream media, it is presented as ‘poor brown women exploited by pimps’. However, there are greater nuances that aren’t addressed at the level of research, public policy, or even activism.”

In addition, this year she started a podcast with Márton Joci, titled Ame Panzh, in which Roma intellectuals, including LGBTQ people, respond to various public issues, trying to enrich activism with an anti-racist, queer, feminist direction. She has also been working for the Hungarian Roma fashion brand, Romani Design, for ten years now: “Here, too, we carry out a lot of storytelling projects, in which we try to change the stereotypical image of Roma people, especially Roma women, through visual images and fashion.”

According to Bogi, if someone makes a living from sex, it already reflects that that person has very limited options for survival, and their options are even more limited if they are Roma. The Roma community condemns sex workers in the same way as the majority society – the latter’s dynamics dominate the Roma or the LGBTQ community, too. Perhaps an even more serious problem is that the issue of sex workers is not really addressed by NGOs, social movements or other minorities either: “In LGBTQ society or feminist circles, there has been no improvement in the perception of sex workers or the consideration of their initiatives. These movements, in order to have a broader base, often choose more popular issues, be it marriage equality in the LGBTQ movement or the glass ceiling in the women’s rights movements. There is a growing ideological debate about the morality of sex workers – for some feminists, they cast a bad light on women and the LGBTQ community says they are not mainstream enough. There is a lack of solidarity.” In the long run, the goal would be to decriminalize the activities of sex workers, but it would also help a lot if at least the police would stop harassing them.

And what can an individual do? As these are systemic problems both in the civil sphere and at the state level, it is obviously difficult for individuals to implement change, whether we are talking about Roma sex workers or Roma LGBTQ people – or any other minority. But still, everyone can do something for a better world. “If someone is a journalist, they can write articles that dignifiedly present these communities, their living conditions, needs, and life stories. There are possibilities everywhere. That’s why we also started our series of talks: to try to give people an idea as to how they can practice active solidarity to the best of their ability. It is not enough to lament with friends about the problems that surround us. Everyone needs to take action according to their abilities.”