Recently the scandal of Colombia was known: men from the custody of the President of the United States hired sex workers women and then refused to pay. They denounced these men, and from there began a persecution, not only to the fellows involved, but also harassment fell on women working in public places. It seems the end of a chronicle, but behind the scenes is much more complex.
The scandal of Colombia calls us to reflection and denouncing simplistic moralizing that reveal hypocrisy, blindness and exclusion.
The harassment of sex workers women is actually an example of how it continues criminalizing sex work, and how this work is immersed in the saddest sad and hardest clandestinity.
While we are blamed for exercise sex work and they invent unbelievable stories about our «dangerous presence», they hide the persecution and repression of a community, a deeply painful situation for any democratic society. Not coincidentally they obscure our difficulties to work and live in freedom: if we are not seen, we cannot complain.
Facts in Colombia remind us that sex workers women exist, and we face power abuses, human rights violations and institutional gender violence, every day in every country in the region. We work in a totally irregular framework, without laws that protect our labor and human rights, facing discrimination and stigma. And just ask the 21 fellows involved in the scandal why they had to seek refuge on an island and many of them are thinking on leaving Colombia.
RedTraSex organizations and leaders, from the beginning assume our identity as sex workers women and with that statement recognized the double discrimination we suffered: for being women and for being sex workers. At the same time we understood that the change depended on us, no one better than sex workers women to talk about our own lives and defend them against any adversity. This, we think, is the best tribute we can give to the fellows who have given their lives fighting for our rights.
With this conviction we generate initiatives that strengthen our place of working women, such as the Global Fund project that we are developing from RedTraSex. We transcended all sorts of difficulties to make us approve a project to strengthen all the organizations of the network, a process that will allow us to influence public policies and demand that once and for all stop being forbidden word.
Today we demand that our governments stop looking the other way and we demand the same rights and duties of other workers of our countries. And that’s how we will raise to the OAS at its next General Assembly to be held in Bolivia the first days of June.
These are the challenges in building a more just and equitable society; it is not an easy road, but it is the one we chose to pass through.
RedTraSex Executive Secretary