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1/08/2012 - Colombia

Civil servant requires “sexual favors”

Fellows of ASMUBULI, RedTraSex member organization, denounced the abuse of a civil servant who has demanded "sexual favors" to female sex workers for not carrying their healthcare carnet.

Since 1997, according to the Decree 1543, the Ministry of Health of Colombia prohibits compulsory testing or requiring carnet or certificate with reference to STDs or HIV. But the reality of female sex workers in Nariño shows otherwise.

In the mentioned department, this regulation is not enforced. And recently, fellows reported that a servant from the Ministry of Health demanded sexual favors in exchange for not denouncing them for having their healthcare carnets expired.

Unfortunately, this is the reality experienced daily by female sex workers: being unable to enjoy their full rights by legislative impositions that violate individual rights alleging an unfounded fight to protect social values of certain groups of these societies.

Members of ASMUBULI told: “this carnet is still obligatory in certain departments and it costs US$30. Also, epidemiological and gynecological exams are required to female sex workers. Repeal this compulsory healthcare carnet nationwide has been our fight for years”. Another difficulty faced by female sex workers in Nariño are the high costs for medical examinations. “Decree 1543 raises free prevention campaigns, but HIV testing is very expensive and for many fellows it is very difficult to afford it”, said Fidelia Suarez, president of ASMUBULI.

In Colombia, sex work is recognized as work with full labor rights (*according to Judgment 629/2010*), but the lack of transparency and regularization of certain rules facilitates constant harassment from the police and other civil servants, as in this case reported by ASMUBULI.

Fidelia Suarez explained that this situation happens for many years, but never arise because the sex workers did not dare to declare. Now, thanks to the work of ASMUBULI, the fellows have taken a big step in defending their rights.

Unanswered

The president of the organization said they had tried to meet with the questioned servant, but he denied himself to any kind of interview. They also sent a written complaint to the Secretary of Health of Ipiales, Patricia Acte, who responded it with aggression and rudeness.

So far no official explanation has been given for these acts of corruption and abuse. Female sex workers are still waiting for someone to fulfill and resolve once and for all this lack of security for the exercise of sex work.

Making visible these situations of impunity is our responsibility, because we are convinced that this is the only way to strengthen the process of empowerment of our fellows to achieve fairer and more equitable policies.

Press repercussions: HSB Noticias