25/07/2012 - Costa Rica

Female Sex Workers in Costa Rica from north to south

Members of La Sala are conducting prevention workshops among peers and meetings to sensitize health professionals.

With the participation of more than 25 female sex workers, fellows of La Sala gave a workshop on HIV prevention for female sex workers in the town of Limón (southern region) in order to training them and detect future promoters to the National Network of Female Sex Workers that La Sala is promoting.

Under the national project being developed with support from UNFPA, the members of the Costa Rican organization are expanding their work into new regions of the country with the aim of identifying leaders and train them through workshops on different issues such as STIs and HIV prevention, integral health and human rights. "The project came up after realizing that many spaces for female sex workers only aimed at sexually transmitted infections. We organized ourselves to empower our community through spaces and, so far, we have managed to sensitize other female sex workers about health and empowerment issues", said Nubia Ordoñez, president of La Sala.

HIV/AIDS reduction and of other diseases is one of the Millennium Development Goals and gender equality is the key to achieving this. Fellows training can provide them of greater capacity to ensure safe sex, awareness and work on access to treatment, among other essential things to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and other epidemics.

Perfect attendance

The meeting with sex workers in Limón was organized and facilitated entirely by the fellows of La Sala. Nubia Ordoñez explained that they chose to give the workshop themselves because they live it as a process to strengthen their role as facilitators and because "we feel that among peers, girls feel more calm, confident to ask and there is a greater sensitivity. In fact, they participated in everything we proposed and they created a friendly climate".

The workshop reception was very good and there was perfect attendance. "We had scheduled the meeting for 15 female sex workers, but when we get there, more fellows wanted to participate and we opened the space for all”, commented excited from La Sala.

In addition to the specific issues that were approached on STI and HIV prevention, the meeting allowed to introduce the work of La Sala and the RedTraSex. "We wanted girls to know that we are organized defending our rights, so that our work is recognized. That they are not alone, because there is an organization that is unique in the country and a network that is unique in the region", said Nubia.

A point on the road

The next visit to the south —to be held in August— that is key in this process of formation, will be the visit to health officials where female sex workers are treated in order to "raise awareness about our problems and difficulties, and for them to give us better service and care", was reported from La Sala.

The finishing touch for this first stage of labor and regional coordination will be a national meeting of female sex workers, scheduled for November, for which already are working fellows of La Sala.

Convinced that the experience of one serves to another, and that organize themselves allows to see beyond the reality is that the Costa Rican fellows are encouraged to go for more. They know the difficulties and challenges of today will be tomorrow’s stories, when they meet together closing ties at the First National Network of Female Sex Workers in Costa Rica.