Mexico City sex workers march for their rights

Mexico’s government put out a statement last month, claiming that there is enough medication for those who have been diagnosed with HIV

Mexico City sex workers march for their rights
Sex work is legal in much of Mexico but every state has different rules - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 02/05/2019 15:32 Reuters Mexico City Christine Murray Actualizada 15:38
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On Wednesday, over a hundred sex workers and supporters marched in Mexico City to demand the government to recognize their legal status and guarantee access to HIV medication after fears of shortages under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Sex work is legal in much of Mexico but every state has different rules, and workers frequently operate in legal voids without protections, making it a dangerous occupation.

The activists at the march voiced their concerns about cuts to public funding of nonprofits and changes to the way the government acquires HIV medication, a move which public health experts and LGBT+ rights advocates said put thousands of patients at risk.

“We’re fighting now because there isn’t any HIV medication,” said Erika Ivon Villegas, a transgender sex worker and activist, who said many in her group regretted voting for the President.

“Where is the government that said it was going to give dignity to Mexicans?”
 

Mexico’s government put out a statement last month, claiming that there is enough medication for those who have been diagnosed with HIV. The Thomson Reuters Foundation has been unable to independently verify the claim.

The march, organized by rights group Brigada Callejera, started near sex work hub La Merced in Mexico City and ended at the Zócalo square, where thousands of unionized laborers had gathered for International Workers’ Day.

Many of those on the sex work march covered their faces with bandannas or wore baseball caps as they walked in the baking hot sun shouting ‘Total respect for sex work!’ and ‘Who owns the street corner? Whoever works on it!’

In 2014, a Mexico City judge ruled that sex workers had the right to be recognized as non-salaried workers, making their work legal, but activists say the local law hasn’t been updated to reflect the decision.

Brigada Callejera says there are around 800,000 sex workers in Mexico, who live with a higher prevalence of HIV than the general population.

The group’s founder, Elvira Madrid, said that the government wasn’t serious about fighting human trafficking and that there was impunity in regards to the treatment of sex workers, particularly when they are murdered.

“Everyone talks about femicides of students, housewives... but when its sex work they won’t even call it by name, its made invisible.”
 

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