Many Latin American sex workers groups came to Cancún, Mexico to join the Organization of American States (OAS) 47th General Assembly from 19 - 21 of June. The Theme of the General Assembly was “Strengthening Dialogue and Concertation for Prosperity.” At the event there were speeches and several panels demanding the acceptance of sex work as work, removal of the laws that criminalise sex work and endangering the life, health, and safety of sex workers, and insistance on the importance of taking measures to ensure that the human rights, safety and dignity of sex workers are respected, protected, and guaranteed.
Regional updates: Latin America
NSWP’s Regional Correspndent in Latin America Ana Karen Lopez Quintana met with Aruba Williams Ortiz Nájera tells, a transgender woman, sex worker activist, and defender of human rights, gender equality, and sexual diversity. Aruba is the president of Tamaulipas Diversity Vihda Trans AC, member of the women's Committee of the National Center for Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS (CENSIDA) and representative of the Plataforma Latinoamericana de Personas que Ejercen el Trabajo Sexual Chapter Mexico (PLAPERTS).
Thousands of women, including sex workers protested violence (physical, sexual, and psychological) that women face in Peru on the 13 of August. There was a national march in 24 difference cities across the country. Sex worker-led organisations such as "Mujeres del Sur" of Arequipa, " Movimiento de trabajadoras sexuales de Peru", "Miluska Vida y Dignidad", "Angel Azul" and "Cambio y Accion", and “PLAPERTS” participated in the march. They chanted in one voice, “Ni una mujer menos víctima de violencia” “Ni una trabajadora sexual menos.”
From the 1 - 5 of August a regional training on the Sex Worker Implementation Tool took place for sex workers in the city of Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The training occurred at the hotel Dos Playas and included representatives of sex worker-led organisations in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico.
Quito has many organisations of sex workers, including "Por un Futuro Mejor" association with 280 members, "Esperanza Futuro" with more than 60 members, and "1° de Mayo" with more than 60 partners. In April they created a coalition to engage in dialogue with national and municipal authorities. The municipality has proposed to displace sex workers outside of the city, including the Cantera brothel in the historic district of Quito. The municipality would like to move sex workers from outdoor and visible locations into indoor and private locations.
On the 26th of May, 2016 in Machala, Ecuador a meeting took place with the Governor, local authorities, brothel owners, leaders of the Asociación 22 de Junio, Flor de Azalea, PLAPERTS Ecuador and 80 female sex workers. There was a protest to reject the new schedule for the tolerance zones for sex work. The proposed schedule would only allow for sex work to occur from Monday to Saturday from 11:00 to 20:00.
Sex work in Peru is not a crime, but sex workers are often treated as criminals. Ana Mamani and Norma Diaz from Arequipa, Peru share their struggle to combat the conflation between sex work and human trafficking with NSWP’s Latin America Regional Correspondent.
In Mexico, sex work is considered a public health problem because it is associated with the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Due to this, health regulation is based on reducing or eliminating the effects of sex work on the general population, through mandatory health checks and sanitary control. This comes at a high economic cost for sex workers and violates their human rights.
The Latin American Platform of Sex Workers (PLAPERTS) is shocked by the murder of their colleague Angelica Miriam Quintanilla, who was Director of LIQUIDAMBAR, a sex worker-led organisation in El Salvador. In March 2016, sex workers from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru received the news that LIQUIDAMBAR wanted to join PLAPERTS. Just as quickly, PLAPERTS received news of her murder. The image above shows LIQUIDAMBAR at a protest with PLAPERTS. Angelica is to the far left.