Argentinian Sex Workers Talk About Sex Work in Mexico

Latin America Regional Correspondent

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.

Sex workers from Argentina who are representatives of AMMAR, traveled 1300 kilometers to Mexico City to attend the General Assemble. They joined activities with Mexican sex workers, feminists, journalists, and students.

“We came to Mexico City to have a press conference, and to show the struggle of AMMAR and sex workers in Argentina. We shared out experiences of working for 22 years. Many interesting debates about sex work could take place in Mexico. Of course, we also came to know the context: the Mexican context of sex work,” said Georgina Orellano, General Secretary of AMMAR.

On 23 June, Georgina Orellano and María Riot met street based sex workers from downtown, had a forum with journalists called “Whores, Not Victims, nor Accomplices in Human Trafficking”, visited Casa Xochiquetzal (the only retirement home for elderly sex workers that now shelters 17 women), and had a discussion group with feminists and dissident bodies, where they pointed to similarities between Mexico and Argentina. The similarities include the constant conflation of sex work and human trafficking, the violent raids, the closing of work spaces, abuse from the police, and other practices that push sex workers underground and make them more vulnerable to violence and HIV.  

María Riot also recognised similarities, but put also spoke about the difference in drug trafficking and the soaring rates of murders (femicides).

During the discussion group with feminists, they pointed out some good strategies they found in Mexico, such as the self-employed card that many sex workers fought for. “It is a tool that colleagues have found to deal with police abuses. Surely that has not changed the conditions of sex workers completely, but they do have a tool to defend themselves against the police,” said Orellano.

During the next days they had a second discussion group with more feminists called “Sex Work and Feminism”, a presentation at the National University, and took part in the XXXIX LGBTTTI Mexico’s Pride Parade showing banners demanding the police persecution of sex workers to stop. As well as a closed meeting only for sex workers which aim was to share more specific problematics, inquiries, and very particular experiences.