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Nicaraguan sex workers integrated into the judicial system

News from Nicaragua | Friday, 31 March 2017 |

Emelia, a member of the Association of Sex Workers, shows her ID as a judicial facilitator

Emelia, a member of the Association of Sex Workers, shows her ID as a judicial facilitator

Sex workers in Nicaragua are not only organised into an association that is recognised as a trade union but are also accredited by the Supreme Court to act as judicial facilitators and advisers.

According to Florence Jaugey of Nicaraguan film company Camila Films this is a ‘unique case in the world.’

Association member Maria Elena Davila commented: 'We are capable women, we defend our rights, and we are also contributing to justice in our country.’

Set up nine years ago, the Nicaraguan Women's Association of Sex Workers Girasoles (Sunflowers) became unionised in 2016 and joined the self-employed sector union CTCP-FNT.

Girasoles began organising against discrimination and violence within their communities with the intention of gaining the trust in order to build mass support for their primary demand: the judicial integration and unionisation of sex workers across the country, a strategy that has worked. The Association has so far recruited 2,300 of the estimated 14,000 sex workers in Nicaragua.

Eighteen of the Association’s members have become volunteer legal advisers accredited by the Supreme Court, to support members in legal cases including acting as legal facilitators to the Supreme Court of Justice.

They also provide support on many legal issues and not only to sex workers. In their first year of operation they attended 412 cases, 102 of which involved sex workers. Film maker Florence Jaugey explained that the programme is intended to “reduce the weight on the police and the judicial system while integrating sex workers into Nicaragua’s judicial system.’

A recent success was that of a a pregnant sex worker sacked from a nightclub was was reinstated as a result of a ruling by the Nicaragua Ministry of Labour (MITRAB) that recognised her employment rights.

The historic ruling, thought to be the first of its kind, means that the sex worker concerned has resumed her work after giving birth and completing her maternity leave.

The Association applauded the judgement that sets a precedent in upholding the fundamental right of non discrimination against women in the workplace for being pregnant.

In January this year, a Nicaragua film collective called Camila films released a documentary about the work of the Association. The film documentary is receiving praise across Latin America, one of the most dangerous regions in the world for sex workers.

Association member Maria Elena Davila commented: “We are capable women, we defend our rights, and we are also contributing to justice in our country. This documentary tells our story.”

The documentary is receiving praise across Latin America, one of the most dangerous regions in the world for sex workers.

As Florence Jaugey from Camila Films points out: “It's a unique case in the world that the justice authorities have given this responsibility to these women,” Jaugey said. “But also the success of this film is not just due to Nicaragua and the state of the law here, it's also due to the goodwill of these women.”

For information on Camila films and a trailer of the documentary:

http://www.camilafilms.com

Information sourced from:

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Meet-the-Sex-Workers-Replacing-Cops-in-Sandinista-Run-Nicaragua-20170311-0015.html