We expose a serious case of Instagram censorship against RedTraSex – Join us with your signature and/or that of your organization in denouncing to relevant institutions the serious Instagram censorship against RedTraSex that violates our freedom of expression and our ability to defend human rights.

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On June 3, 2021 – one day after the most important commemorative day for sex workers around the world – our Instagram account (@redtrasex) was blocked. We immediately appealed it and followed the complaint and recovery procedure offered by the social network asking for their arbitrary decision to be reversed. Far from giving us any response or notification, Instagram proceeded to eliminate our account. The many reports that were sent by REDTRASEX to Instagram found no response.

We had raised the alarm about this situation: our compañeras from Chile and Mexico have also been censored in social media lately. On February 11, 2021, we applied to participate in an IAHRC hearing on Internet content moderation and freedom of expression in the Americas. Unfortunately our application was ignored even though society as a whole, and those of us engaged in sex work, are witnessing a strong backlash by which discoruses of hatred and stigmatization seek to undermine our identities and self-determination.

We are a political organization by and for women sex workers. We have a broad trajectory of work of more than 23 years in Latin America and the Caribbean and are active in 15 countries across the region. We defend our human rights and created 4 unions that have been legally recognized by the State in Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru. Throughout our history we have been involved in important meeting spaces across the region and we recognize in this act of censorship one more violation of our rights, and a serious one.

REDTRASEX can not be silenced; it never was and it never will be. But those trying to do so damage a significant number of our compañeras across Latin America and the Caribbean who are still in the streets and working underground, subject to systematic attacks by the police and some elements in society. Particularly in the post-lockdown period in the region, social media has become a useful tool to expand support for many women sex workers who have been forgotten and denied help by their governments. Thus, censorship of our outreach efforts implies ignoring not only the Inter-American jurisprudence that has established freedom of expression as a key tool to exercise other fundamental rights but also the calls issued by the IAHRC, Amnesty International and UNAIDS-LAC, pointing out that our rights deserve special attention in a context of crisis. This causes serious damage to sex workers across the region and to our technical staff as well as their personal accounts have also been blocked.

We keep saying it and we will say it as many times as needed: it is time to stop misrepresenting and criminalizing sex work. In Latin America and the Caribbean, to engage in sex work is not a crime; but censoring and trampling on freedom of expression are.

Our movement was born in the Latin American streets decades ago, without technology, social media, Internet or cell phones; what has kept us connected has been the strong belief in the recognition of our rights. We have organized by talking to each other when illegally arrested and having to fight back against the police. Now, there also seems to be a police behind the screens that is pointing fingers against us autonomous women who seem to make some people morally uncomfortable simply because we are doing our work.

We call all institutions, organizations and individuals who recognize that it is important to defend human rights to join us in this demand. We will not cease to expose this arbitrary decision that affects thousands of women in the region. We are moving forward with relevant actions and denunciations; we demand answers to our questions and a response by Facebook and Instagram along with the restoration of our official account and those of our staff. But above all we reiterate the call to stop criminalizing sex work and recognizing it as such, because that recognition is the only guarantee to stop the ongoing and systematic violation of our human rights in the streets, in sex work establishments and in virtual spaces.

Latin American and Caribbean Women Sex Workers Network REDTRASEX
July 2021

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