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Bloggers making video about sex workers in Dushanbe released; prosecutor's office investigates the case.

Bloggers, who last week secretly made video about sex workers in the Tajik capital, have reportedly been released on their own recognizance. The Dushanbe prosecutor's office is investigating the case. The bloggers are accused of breaching privacy laws.

Some lawyers say the bloggers are persecuted illegally.

The Dushanbe Police Directorate notes that the bloggers have been released immediately on their own recognizance. 'The Dushanbe prosecutor's office is investigating their case and establishing the circumstances. Criminal proceedings have been instituted against the bloggers under the provisions of Article 144 of Tajikistan's Penal Code - invasion of privacy,' the Dushanbe Police Directorate press center says.

The bloggers have already published their first video after they were released. 'We have not yet been fined, nothing has been demanded of us, but we admit everything,' the bloggers say.

They also expressed gratitude to all those who supported them and understood their message.

Meanwhile, Radio Liberty's Tajik Service reported on July 31 that the secretly made video two bloggers posing as potential clients looking in Dushanbe for a prostitute to hire for the night.

The men meet several sex workers separately after picking them up in their car and asking about the types of 'services' they provide and the amount of money they charge. In each conversation -- recorded with a hidden camera inside the car -- the bloggers gradually change the subject and start casually asking questions about the women's family situation and the reasons why they've become prostitutes. Unaware of the secret camera, the women get in the car and sit in the front seat while haggling about the price.

In the video footage, the women's faces are covered by emojis, but their voices haven't been changed. Almost all the women claim they became sex workers out of poverty and 'desperation' -- to provide money for their children.

Each conversation ends with the bloggers offering 'free money' to the sex workers and pleading with them to 'go straight home' to their children and 'refrain from [prostitution] at least for one night, tonight.'

The women were very surprised by the offer and didn't believe it at first. But each then accepted the money and promised to go home for the night.

In a final shot in the video, the bloggers speak to the camera and call on Tajik men and officials not to buy sex and instead offer the women cash as a humanitarian act so they can go home to their families.

The undated video, produced by four Dushanbe-based bloggers, was posted on their YouTube channel Avlod Media, which has more than 24,000 subscribers.

The video, which has since been removed from Avlod Media's account, has been watched tens of thousands of times since it first appeared on the Internet on July 19. It spread quickly to other YouTube accounts.

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Publication:ASIA-Plus
Geographic Code:9TAJI
Date:Aug 2, 2019
Words:548
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