Philobiblon: Human rights for sex workers

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Human rights for sex workers

I posted a link a couple of days ago to the campaign for Justice for Linda campaign, and I've done my bit in sending the email to Venezuelan justice officials.

But the case has continued to haunt me - not just because of the horrific ordeal that she endured - four months of captivity and torture; I'm afraid I've been a journalist too long, and have read too much of the details of trials that never make it in to print for reasons of "taste", to let such details affect me.

What really struck me was the legal situation:

"In an attempt to exploit an outrageous piece of the Venezuelan Penal Code which calls for a reduced sentence for crimes against sex workers, Carrera Almoina's defense claimed that Loaiza was part of a prostitution ring. If sentenced to jail time, Carrera Almoina would have only have had to serve a fifth of the normal sentence. No evidence was presented in support of these claims, and Loaiza has consistently denied them."


I was in a debate on the subject of religion over on Blogcritics about the damage done by religion, and here's a classic example of the hideously damaging social effects of religious morality.

What this law is in effect declaring is that sex workers are sub-human - one-fifth of a human to be precise.

I've had more encounters with this issue in Asia, and have written on women's humans rights there, but it seems this is a worldwide issue.

And it's an issue for ALL women, as Linda's case indicates. For this is really just an extension of the argument all too familiar to campaigners for women's rights for protection from assault in Western states: "she asked for it by being drunk/wearing the wrong clothes/being in the wrong place".

It occurs to me that only when the letter and the process of the law protects sex workers as it protects anyone else, is any woman fully protected. (Indeed, any person, since I suspect male rape is the great un-reported crime, and there are certainly plenty of male sex workers.)

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