Sex workers in Jamaica gathered last week to demand rights, respect and dignity at a conference that received widespread press coverage around the region. Described as "members of a group that most Jamaicans may not have heard of", Television Jamaica went on to note that the Carribean Sex Workers Collective are "advocating for equal rights, and an end to stigma and discrimination".
The conference included sex workers of all genders, in a local context where MSM (men who have sex with men) are highly stigmatised additionally to the stigma that all sex workers face. Sex workers and allies gathered from across the Carribean. One participant said, "we are not demanding any special law ... we are merely asking that the laws enshrine and respect our human rights". The Montegro Bay declaration was read and affirmed by all participants, speaking to a need for an end to violence, discrimination, and human rights violations.
Sex workers also noted that they need labour rights. One woman said, "I work to support my family - I have four children". One of the issues raised at the conference was the need for work permits to be issued to sex workers, as sex work should be recignised by the Carribean states as work like any other.
You can here more about this conference and the widespread media coverage it received via this report from Television Jamaica. You can read more about the NSWP member organisations and network that ran and participated in this conference on our website.