Sex Workers in Ecuador Protest Working Hours

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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.

In accordance to the new ordinance, the operating hours for the night tolerance zones are Monday through Thursday from 16:00 until 24:00, and also, Friday and Saturday from 16:00 to 02:00 hours. The new schedules, established in the new 6987 Ministerial Agreement from the 30th of March 2016, also prohibit operation on Sundays.

In the meeting, sex workers said they would rebel against these provisions that harm and impair their work, their livelihood, their quality of life and their right to integrity. They also expressed that this provision was made without taking into consideration the voice of the thousands of women who work by the coastlines. These measures show an oversimplified rational, and these schedules are attached more to highlands than to the coast.

Sex workers from Ecuador questioned the State for its justification that the new time slots are for security reasons. In fact, this new regulation reinforces the stigma and criminalisation of sex workers by linking sex work to drugs and crime, and by denying recognition of sex work as a work.

The above-mentioned provisions will generate greater insecurity and violence since the evening tolerance zones are located in dangerous places. That is why their customary schedules have always been from 09:00 to 17:00 hours. It is safer for sex workers to work during the day. With this in mind, sex workers demand:

  1. The immediate repeal of the 6987 ministerial agreements;
  2. That sex workers are heard and considered before making policies that will affect us;
  3. That the topic of sex work is on security agendas, but from the point of view of sex workers. People must keep in mind the specific needs of sex workers;
  4. The establishment of policies for protection and guarantees towards people who work in the sex industry;
  5. Improvement of working conditions to curb abuse and exploitation of sex workers by third parties who own brothels;
  6. Creation of an insurance for women working in the sex industry.
  7. Employment policies, job offers and/or new ideas of micro entrepreneurship as an option for people who would like to exit sex work.
  8. To be considered as citizens with rights, to be shown concern and respect for what we do.