The Network for the Recognition of Sex Work Launched in Cordoba, Argentina

Published: October 2, 2012

On Thursday October 4, at 7 pm, the Network for the Recognition of Sex Work (RRTS in Spanish) will be launched in Cordoba, Argentina. The launch will take place in the Dr. Rex González room at the Anthropology Museum, Hipolito Yrigoyen 174, and will feature a panel outlining the main tasks the Network has set out to do.

The Network for the Recognition of Sex Work is a collective bringing together sex work*rs, academic research teams, activists, artists and social organizations seeking the recognition of any paid sexual activity done willingly by individuals of legal age as work.

The Network’s main objectives include:
– To promote discussion and passing of a law guaranteeing human and labor rights, such as retirement and social security, for those engaging in sex work.
– To push for the repeal of articles in the Contraventional Code that allows the police to arrest people without a judge’s order.
– To support the creation of autonomous sex workers’ cooperatives as proposed by Asociación de Mujeres Meretrices de Argentina – Cordoba (AMMAR, Argentinean Association of Meretrixs-Cordoba).
The panel will feature:
Roberto Birri. Cordoba State Legislator, Socialist Party, Spokesperson for Frente Civico and Social bloc.
Eugenia Aravena. General Secretariat Asociación de Mujeres Meretrices de Argentina – Cordoba, Human Rights Secretariat at CTA (Argentinean Workers’ Union) and RRTS member.
Juan Marco Vaggione. RRTS member, Sociology Professor at the Law and Social Sciences School, UNC (Cordoba National University); CONICET (National Research Council on Science and Technology) researcher
Liliana V. Pereyra. RRTS member; Community Outreach Secretary, Philosophy and Humanities School – UNC; Head of the Research Team on Making Bodies and Professor at the Philosophy and Humanities School – UNC.
Please circulate widely.
Media contacts: Gimena Franchini (54351) 156002444.
The Network for the Recognition of Sex Work is a collective bringing together sex work*rs, academic research teams, activists, artists and social organizations from Cordoba province seeking to legitimize any paid sexual activity as work.

We consider “sex work” to be those services offered by individuals of legal age, in full possession of their faculties, with the consent of all involved and without any coercion by third parties to engage in this activity. It is a personal effort to commercialize services for profit, that results in a cash payment or any other form of retribution. It is a part or a stage in an activity, of a personal project to sustain one’s schooling and/or achievement of certain assets or economic ends. The 3rd ILO Convention (International Labor Organization) defines those engaged in sex work as “any person who agrees to engage in sex with an undefined number of individuals for pay¨.

In Argentina, hegemonic sexual hierarchies echo a socializing model centered on the monogamous, heterosexual and reproductive couple. In this context, sexual relationships assume an erotic-loving relationship based on love and gratuity. This is how an erotic-sexual stratification is established that strongly demarcates and conditions what is understood as legitimate desire or desirable practice, excluding a large amount of practices and ways of desiring that, being outside these regulations, also deserve to be recognized as legitimate. Autonomous sex work appears as one of the other sides of this model, as it places sex in a framework of commercial activity.

For this reason, sex work takes place as an underground, unregulated activity. Even though in Argentina sex work is not crime, it is neither an activity recognized as work and thus lacks any regulation that can guarantee the labor rights of those engaging in it.

Since 1936, when Prophylaxis Law 12331 was passed, an abolitionist legal framework for sex work was implemented in the country. Along the same lines is Presidential Decree No. 936/2011, forbidding publication of advertisements of sexual services in the media, whose goal is to eradicate the trafficking of persons into sexual slavery. By forbidding advertisements publicizing a legitimate activity, a source of income for those engaging in paid sexual activities, this Decree in effect facilitates and promotes procuring. And it deepens the perception of sex work as illegal, by mixing it up with trafficking in persons.

The federal system prevailing in the country allows provinces to have their own Contraventional, Misdemeanour or Coexistence Codes that allow for unlimited discretion, arbitrariness, power imbalance, and symbolic and material violence on the part of the police. In Cordoba, Article 45 of the Misdemeanour Code refers to “Troublesome or scandalous prostitution” thus setting a legal framework that allows for harassment and extortion of those engaging in sex work.

The recently passed Provincial Law 10060 forbids the setting up, operation, management, support, promotion, publicity, administration and/or exploitation of whisky bars, cabarets, night clubs, boites or any other hostess bars, of any shape, modality or name, in the province. Known as the “trafficking law”, its goal is to corner the organizations trafficking in women as a way to combat sexual exploitation and trafficking of persons in the country. However, the main problem with this new rule is how it equates prostitution and trafficking of persons, criminalizes sex work and eradicates all possible spaces for sex workers, including cooperatives and workers’ own homes.

Faced with this situation, we think there is a need to legally and socially recognize sex work as labor, thus guaranteeing the exercise of sexual rights and precluding the absence of job security and criminalization of those engaged in this activity. Including sex work in the discussions around sexual and reproductive rights offers a political and narrative framework for its regulation.

Who then are the subjects whose bodies acquire the right to decide for themselves? Or – to put it in a different way – whose bodies are allowed to achieve the legal and epistemological status of “subjects”? Which rights support that possibility?
The Network’s Objectives
– To push for a law recognizing autonomous sex work in the country and guarantee the human and labor rights of those engaged in this activity.
– To demand enforcement of Decree 1086/2005 that contains the INADI’s (National Institute Against Discrimination) National Plan against Discrimination and whose Article 17 states that Contraventional Codes containing open definitions – like moral outrage or public scandal – that give Police the authority to arrest people without an order from a judge; and whose Article 18 promotes passing a law recognizing the right to retirement and social security for sex workers.
– To develop legal strategies to counteract the effects of abolitionist legal measures at the national level.
– To support the creation of autonomous sex workers’ cooperatives as proposed by Asociación de Mujeres Meretrices de Argentina – Cordoba (AMMAR, Argentinean Association of Meretrixs-Cordoba).
– To contribute to making sex work as a legitimate activity more visible.
– To network with collectives, individuals and organizations in other provinces that are working for the recognition of sex work.
– To promote differentiation between sex work and trafficking of persons in different social spaces.
– To dismantle oppressive moral discourses stigmatizing sex work.
We invite you to join the Network for the Recognition of Sex Work by endorsing this document. We thank you for circulating it widely and for your support.

Send your endorsement to Red por el Reconocimiento del Trabajo Sexual –

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