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La Calle en DisPuta

Nos hemos unido como la Coalición de Organizaciones de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores Sexuales de Quito para demandar nuestro derecho a la calle.

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Letter to the Mayor of Quito

Translation in English:

On May 25, we delivered the following letter from our Coalition to the mayor of Quito, Mauricio Rodas Espinel.

Quito, May 25, 2016

Dr. Mauricio Rodas Espinel

MAYOR OF THE METROPOLITAN DISTRICT OF QUITO

Dear Mayor Rodas,

We send cordial salutations on behalf of various organizations of sex workers who exercise our occupation in the Metropolitan District of Quito, in diverse methods, and have gathered together, since April of this year, in a Coalition of Sex Workers’ Organizations of Quito with the goal of engaging in dialogue with the municipal and national authorities, whom we urge to take steps towards non-discrimination, peaceful cohabitation and the full exertion of the right to sex work with guarantees.

We are people who work of our own account in the streets of the city, through contracts agreed upon in public space or through telephone or Internet. Whatever the method, it is important to affirm head on that we, as you know, employ ourselves in an occupation with a level of informality that will be inevitable so long as it is not completely normalized in the Ecuadorian laws, nor integrated in economic life with the labor guarantees and rights that correspond to any job.

Given the lack of adequate legal protection, which increases the stigma and discrimination that surrounds those of us who exercise sex work, we constitute a vulnerable population: vulnerability that expresses itself in all scopes of social life, particularly in an intense explosion of violence, discrimination in areas like access to housing, to credit, to healthcare, and a sometimes problematic relationship with inhabitants of certain neighborhoods as well as with agents of public order. One of the main problems that we face is the fact that there is a tendency of institutional policies to limit our access to public space, while, simultaneously, there is no effective guarantee of our labor rights nor an effective improvement in the conditions of housing, credit, health, non-discrimination and life free of violence.

Although we have already started to engage in dialogue with diverse officials of the Municipality of Quito, we think at this moment it is necessary to have a more solid and more direct negotiation, which permits all the involved parties certainty that we will advance legally valid agreements. It does not seem adequate to us to continue having tables of dialogue in which the municipal officials that participate are both the judge and the interested party in various sensitive points of the negotiation, and on the other hand, they’re not necessarily those who have the legal authority to make last resort decisions on behalf of the Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito (MDMQ).

As such, through internal discussions that led to the configuration of the Coalition that sends you this letter, we the leaders of the sex workers of Quito share with you the following aspirations:

  1. We propose that the tables of dialogue between the sex work union formed by our Coalition and the Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito raise themselves to the mechanism of a FORMAL MEDIATION with the end goal that the agreements have respective legal validity and the advances made firmly committed to, because they will be taken and signed by those who have the legal authority to decide, on both sides. The mediation should be realized with the guarantee of an institution independent from the involved parties.
  1. We propose that the mediation address as a priority issue the creation of agreements on the regulation of autonomous sex work that is exercised by negotiated contract in public space. We are sure that we agree that this is the most urgent aspect, irrespective of whether we can come to agreement on other methods and problems related to sex work, their labor conditions, etc.
  1. We propose ceding mutually the peaceful coexistence in public space, ensuring ways in which all of us win: we agree that it produces a better order and formality in the exertion of our work, that determined spaces of the city be conceded for its development and that these be respected; however, we do not agree to being confined exclusively in enclosed spaces. Nor can we, ever, accept any norm that, against the protectionist spirit of the Constitution of Ecuador. In this regard, we need to examine the interpretation of norms on the “misuse of public space,” considering that autonomous sex work exercised in the street, which might be and even is desirable that it be exercised with more order, under no circumstances is an activity that falls under “misuse of public space.”
  1. The most important for us is that the with the fruit of an efficient negotiation, we improve the access of sex workers to a full exercise of the rights that we often see violated and that we listed previously: health, housing, access to credit, a life free of violence, among others. Consequently, we want the mediation that we propose to take on the establishment of a COMMITTEE OF SEX WORK, like exists at the municipal level on other subjects and with other sectors of the population, such as for credit access and training, to cite some examples. It would be very beneficial for our union to receive training workshops, but in areas that are truly useful to us and that don’t reinforce the paternalistic vision of “taking us out of sex work” – an action which, being realistic, many of us are unable to leave and many others do not want to. This should be understood and accepted, as achieving equality requires accepting our labor activity.

We trust that this approach we propose to the Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito bears fruit in the interest of creating A MORE INCLUSIVE, AND NOT JUST MORE ORDERLY, CITY: a city in which we take steps towards the elimination of the stigma and discrimination that surround sex work and are the root of the vulnerability and problems that we face.

We thank you and await your kind response,

For the female sex workers of the street:
Dorinda Alexandra Flores

Association For a Better Future
Elizabeth Viviana Colobón

Association 1st of May

For the trans sex workers of the street:
Ana Carolina Alvarado Ramírez

Association of Trans Sex Workers of Quito

El concepto de la ciudad: Para un Quito inclusivo

Aquí se juega la fachada de Quito y su postal colonial, pero también se juega el fondo; el concepto de ciudad por el que se apuesta. El debate sobre la regulación del trabajo sexual callejero es un debate sobre qué presencias se permiten e incluso se celebran en el espacio público, y cuáles otras se desalientan, se “ordenan” rigurosamente, o de plano se esconden. Por supuesto, también se juegan derechos constitucionales (libertad estética y espacio público, por mencionar dos) de personas concretas que pertenecen a colectivos en histórica desventaja: personas con las que el Estado y el gobierno local están en deuda. Las trabajadoras sexuales del Centro Histórico de Quito no quieren ser “re ubicadas” en espacios cerrados a los que nunca han estado acostumbradas. No quieren sentirse asfixiadas. Ellas, que conocen las dinámicas de sus calles mejor que nadie, proponen ubicarse en determinadas calles que están “de bajada” y volverlas incluso más habitables. Ojalá el diálogo que mantienen con el Municipio prospere en acuerdos respetuosos de convivencia en el espacio público. – Elizabeth Vásquez, Proyecto Transgénero

Here not only is the surface of the city – the facade of postcard-perfect colonial Quito – at stake, but so is the substance: the notion of the city being argued for. The debate about the regulation of street sex work is a debate on what presences are allowed and even celebrated in public space, and what others are discouraged, are “ordered” rigorously, or point-blank hidden. Of course, also at stake are constitutional rights (aesthetic freedom and public space, to name two) of concrete persons belonging to historically disadvantaged groups: people to whom the State and local government are in debt. The sex workers of Quito’s Historic Center do not want to be “re-located” to enclosed spaces to which have never been accustomed. They do not want to feel suffocated. They, who know the dynamics of their streets better than anyone, propose locating themselves in certain streets that are in poor conditions and making them more liveable. Hopefully their ongoing dialogue with the Municipality will successfully result in respectful agreements of coexistence in the public space. – Elizabeth Vásquez, Project Transgender

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La Plaza del Teatro, fines del siglo XIX
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La Plaza del Teatro hoy en día

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