Chronicle of the Feminist Meeting



Chronicle of the 12th Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Meeting

The opening of the 12th Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Meeting in Bogota was especially exciting for RedTraSex. On November 23 we burst loud in the main hall of the Hotel Tequendama, with red shirts proclaiming «Sex work is not Trafficking». We filled the room with color and music: «Dance, women, dance / dance with your heart / we are workers / we want to live better! / REDTRASEX, REDTRASEX!» Women applauded, some curious came and took photos of us. Since then, fellows of RedTraSex were no longer separated.

From previous experiences, we know that feminist spaces are not always peaceful. Sex work raises many conflicting opinions, and many times reactions were not favorable or pleasing. So, despite we come with great joy in our hearts, we were also with fear of rejection. Like so many times.

But the truth is that throughout the meeting we have had pleasant surprises. One of them was that REDTRASEX co-facilitated one of the fourteen plenary, in this case «Political Body, Sexual and Reproductive Rights». To our amazement, was attended by approximately 130 women. It was coordinated by Nirvana Gonzalez Rosa from Red de Salud de las Mujeres, and Gloria Careaga -a social psychologist from Mexico- and I were its co-facilitators. In this table, we realized how much effort takes even talking about sexual rights. The entire network was at the plenary, and we were asked many questions. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of young women who attended, because I think we are fortunate to be able to reach them.
The most important thing about this plenary was probably confirm that if there is discrimination against us, is neither more nor less than a result of ignorance. Many people do not know too many aspects of sexuality, gender, rights and our dreams and realities.

«Sex Work vs. Trafficking»

That same day in the afternoon, we made a table that was a RedTraSex proposal called «Sex Work vs. Trafficking». Alejandra Sardá from Mama Cash helped with its coordination. When I saw the big saloon, I must confess that I was worried. We thought that having been in the previous plenary, and be the starting table in the afternoon after a tiring day… the girls were not going to attend both. But we had our second surprise: many people attended.

All Network Leaders were present. I clearly saw in them how empowered we are, talking from real knowledge and also from the heart. The nicest surprise was discovering with every passing day there were many respect in all discussions. I’m sure that has to do with 14 years of networking, along with many other organizations, occupying spaces, making our voice known, making us visible in the debates… and then, here it is the result. Some women begin to open their heads, because they cannot deny what this great movement decided. I feel it is increasingly realizing the need to respect because working against patriarchy is also that: to respect the voice of other women, be happy and free to decide once and for all.

The March for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

It was an honor for us to participate in the March for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Days before the meeting, we worked together on a flag that would identify us and lead us along the way. We know a lot about violence, and we asked not only for not being physically battered… Hunger, repression, lack of access to justice, education, and housing are also violence. RedTraSex fights against this since its birth.

The Organizing Committee of the Meeting chose twelve women to speak at the end of the march in Plaza Bolivar. As a representative of sex workers, I was chosen to say a few words. There is so much we have to say and so few minutes… But we knew how to exploit them. Some of the most important points of what we set out in the act:

– We participated in the meeting because we are fighter women. We fight for recognition of sex work as work, but also against the sexual exploitation of our women, boys and girls.

-We know a lot about violence against women, because as sex workers women we suffer violence even from our own governments that not provide us of rights, or use its security forces against us. We want police to respect human rights.

-Our struggle is for a just, equitable and equal society for all.

-We want control over our bodies, so we say YES TO ABORTION. But if the body is mine to have an abortion, to decide about my sexuality, it is also mine TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO WORK WITH IT.

And at the end, RedTraSex declared itself Feminist.

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