The life of refugees in Quito Ecuador engage in sex work to survive (opinion)

Posted on April 15, 2015 • Filed under: Ecuador, Latin America Womens Issues, Social Issues / Jennifer S. Rosenberg (opinion) reported in this vacuum, some refugee sex workers in Quito are referred to a local anti-trafficking organization that takes an explicit anti-prostitution position: Everyone who engages in sex work is presumed to be a victim of trafficking to some degree. The organization teaches them alternative ways to generate income, such as making luxury soap and chocolate to sell at markets. For those looking to leave sex work, such classes may be exactly what they need. But for those not looking to exit sex work, what they won’t receive is information about how to do sex work safely and what health and legal services are available to them.

There are, of course, a number of social and professional networks in Quito for people engaged in commercial sex. RedTrabSex — referring to trabajadoras sexuales, or sex workers — does routine street outreach, distributing packets with condoms, the names of friendly health centers and information on sex worker rights in Ecuador. Marcha de las Putas has created a legal patrol that helps sex workers pool safety knowledge about risky clients, say, or incidents of police harassment.

Sex work at times can be safer than other jobs in which refugees are subjected to sexual harassment and abuse from employers and co-workers. Some refugees may feel that sex work is their best option because the pay is better or more reliable. After trying and failing to obtain other jobs, Daniela, a 19-year-old Afro-Colombian trans refugee in Quito, said, “We are allowed to do only two jobs here — in a hair salon or on the street [selling sex], and I can make a lot more money on the street. Read Article

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