Sex workers call for the legalization of sex work in Bolivia

One of Bolivia’s sex workers organizations, Organización de Trabajadoras Nocturnas (OTN), has called for the legalization of sex work in Bolivia and for sex workers to be granted retirement benefits and health insurance. A bill on the subject will be debated in Bolivian parliament in this year. The text of the bill has been published by La Razón, a local newspaper.

“What we do is a job and not a crime, so we finalized a bill that will allow us to retire and to be affiliated with a health fund”, said the leader of the OTN, Lily Cortez.

There is no law regarding sex work in Bolivia. The OTN has 50,000 affiliates, 80 percent of whom work in nightclubs. According to Cortez, the sex workers are between 18 and 65 years old. The OTN will meet in a national assembly next month to address this issue and appoint a committee to present the draft ‘Law on Social Security Retirement for Sex Workers in Bolivia’.

Bolivian female sex workers in particular are raising their voices to demand a safe and protected environment to work in. ONAEM (Organización Nacional de Activistas por la Emancipación de la Mujer), a major national women’s emancipation organization that supports the demans of the sex workers, works to make these women visible and fights for their human, sexual and labor rights.

Hivos supports the sex workers’ demand to be recognized as an integral part of society and the Bolivian work force, and will continue partnering with ONAEM to strengthen its organization and expand its network. Hivos shares ONAEM’s view that that the best way to support sex workers is to recognize their work as a legal occupation in order to guarantee them decent working conditions.

Source – Hivos