Honduran sex workers have offered a proposal for reforming the country’s treatment of their profession that they hope will lead to them "being treated as human beings by police officers, health employees and society in general,” Regina Barahona, president of the Network of Sexual Workers of Honduras, the country chapter of the Latin American RedTraSex organization, told teleSUR on Tuesday.
On May Day, Honduran sex workers gave the country’s Human Rights Ministry a proposal meant to better protect their labor rights in the face of daily violence and discrimination after marching for the first time along with the rest of the country’s workers.
The text takes a human rights persective on sex work, focusing on health, security and justice for those who work in the field.
In hospitals, for instance, sex workers are only perceived “from below their belts,” said Barahona, meaning they only receive medical assistance for sexual diseases, but are severly discriminated against when it comes to receiving treatment other medical conditions.
Speaking to teleSUR, Barahona insisted that much of the violence sex workers currently face comes from police officers, not clients.
That violence can often be deadly, with a total of 23 sex workers reportedly killed in Honduras between September 2013 and February 2016. None of those killings resulted in a conviction for the killer.
To address this impunity, the sex workers’ proposal suggests providing police training sessions on discrimination and sex work, while improving the judicial system ability to provide justice for those who engage in sex work.
The government will now debate the document before meeting up again with representatives of the organization.
We don’t necessarily want the proposal to become legislation debated in Congress," said Barahona, but we would like "at least some sort of executive order that would apply in all municipalities."
Sex work in Honduras is currently regulated at the municipal level, which in practice means it is often criminalized.