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Home Issues 5. The article describes the social challenges and violations faced by this group due to different types of stigma present in Colombian society and discusses current political debates around the legality of sex work. It proposes that through empowering these women using a participatory approach and giving them access to technology such as photography and video, empathy can be mobilized and can reduce the barriers that FSWs and their children are facing.
By raising awareness of the problem of stigmatization, it becomes possible to effect change on a political level through critical social inclusion praxis. The article begins by analyzing different stigmas that exist in Colombian society and the problems that result from such stigmas, before offering a review of social initiatives and proposing a project outline and policy options using participatory methods. Out of 43 submissions, the jury eventually selected three finalist teams to present their projects in Geneva on 15 September As it was screened and selected by an independent jury, this article did not undergo the usual double-blind peer review process.
When the President orders them to clean the neighbourhoods and take back the space nobody asked us what we think about that. We decided to draw up a proposal regarding the empowerment of sex workers by measures to combat stigma through participatory audiovisual praxis.
According to the literature and evidence review that we carried out, a successful way to acknowledge and fight stigma is to use participatory methods.
These authors defined sex work as one or several services in which sex is exchanged for money or goods. Of all these types of work, street workers have been most severely depicted as deviant due 2 Bulgaria at bar women 4 sex downtown them sometimes having drug related dependencies and practicing drug abuse. However, it is a common myth that sex workers fund their drug use through their work. Studies suggest that sex workers are likely to start or increase their drug use in order to deal with distress caused by activities associated with their occupation including social pressure or discrimination Burnes et al.
By empowerment, we refer to the process through which people gain control over their lives, organizations, and community. We argue that sex work can be a form of self-determination for women rather than a source of stigma and discrimination Burnes et al. Conceptualizing sex work as exploitative endorses victimization and powerlessness. Moreover, stigma is seen by others as something inherent to the person or inside the person, rather than something that can be placed on that person or imposed by others.
Such an attribute is thought to spoil identity and disqualify the person from full social acceptance Link and Phelan, Consequently, stigma involves social rejection and negative perceptions both in the public and personal spheres for stigmatized individuals Sallmann, We will then discuss the ongoing debate on sex work regulation, and how these policies are sometimes a source of stigmatization.
Subsequently, we propose some options for social action based on research and the expected of our project. Compared to other Latin American countries, Colombia has among the highest health costs due to violence. In Brazil it is 1. It is important to understand that these figures do not take long-term health costs into. Research has proven that victims of violence suffer from more mental, behavioural, and sexual problems, together with increased substance abuse linked to violence-related trauma Pan American Health Organization [PAHO], generating ificantly higher health costs throughout their lives Buvinic et al.
All of these issues are problems that women who do sex work suffer from because of the stigma associated with their work. Despite the increase of women in the labour force, shift durations and levels of education, income, and unemployment mark the most persistent social inequalities in Colombia.
For the first quarter ofmen had In a male-dominated capitalist society, women within all social and classes occupy disadvantaged social and economic positions and seek ways to secure income in these gender-limited circumstances. However, women involved in prostitution do not have their legal and human rights guaranteed Ritterbusch, Along with the stigma associated with their line of work, these socio-economic conditions further impede their access to basic human rights such as housing or education, and health services and other social protective systems World Health Organization [WHO], The methodologies that state agents and NGOs use to gather information are usually surveys that use a type of language unfamiliar for the community.
These surveys are often too long or concern subjects that are unappealing for sex workers.
During writing workshops they have repeatedly acknowledged that they respond to surveys with random answers so they can get the rewards offered usually condoms or food. Such information is also based only on female sex workers who work out of brothels, since they constitute the easiest population to access. However, the working conditions of different groups of sex workers are, themselves, very different.
It has been argued that sex workers who work on the street are the group most vulnerable to violence, disease, and prosecution Prior, Hubbard and Hubbard, Within this population 60 per cent work in more formal establishments and 40 per cent work on the street. The average age of female sex workers was between 15 and 25 years and the majority of these women are involved in sex work due to a lack of income and formal employment opportunities. Also, most of them come from rural areas, largely due to forced displacement caused by armed conflict or by conditions of extreme poverty. In Colombia, such situations are far worst if we take into that young males are more often killed as a result of the armed conflict the country has endured for the past 50 years Pan American Health Organization, The main norms that refer to prostitution as work are legislative acts of and ofdefining the high-impact zones in the city and the operating conditions, along with the guidelines established in the land use plan.
Decree of modified the former act on location and operation of establishments intended for sex work and other activities related to it. It also introduced conditions of health, social welfare, and environment. Mainly, this law explains that sex work establishments located outside permitted areas should move to any of the legal zones if they wish to continue operating. It has been argued that the prohibitionist approach to sex work further increases the vulnerability of those who practice this occupation Shannon et al.
Recognizing the aforementioned flaws in the existing approach, the proposal attempts to drastically change current sex work policies: project of law 79 of This initiative recognizes that this is not a job like any other and that it needs special regulation, with specific guarantees to respect the economic, social, and cultural rights of sex workers.
It would set the parameters for commercial establishments dedicated to all services related to sex work. Also, the initiative proposes to ensure the same labour and social welfare rights that come with any other job, but with some features addressing the special risks sex work implies. Finally, it attempts to dignify this community by re-establishing their rights as social subjects meriting special protection. Criminalizing sex work, from our point of view — one grounded in our work with the community — creates negative effects for sex workers in many ways.
Laws need to protect women and the zones they work in, providing them with access to safety and health institutions. The Colombian Constitutional Court, in its judgements T60 ofSU— ofand C ofrecognized that prostitution is not a desirable reality and that it violates human dignity. Hence, the most efficient way to deal with it is to discourage sex work and its growth. These s show the hard reality of only some female sex workers, describing the problem superficially via a small sample of the population.
All of the above reflect the exclusion practices, institutional barriers, and limited access to basic rights sex workers endure. Additionally, some studies suggest that such gender structure and traditional morality create a widespread acceptance of sexual double standards for men and women regarding sex, making women more culpable than men for participating in commercially motivated sex. Such mentality emphasizes the belief that only sex in marriage is acceptable and sex work is immoral Wong et al.
Thus, FSWs are perceived to contravene institutional norms for women. Culturally, this is read as a rejection of mainstream values and norms that justifies violent practices against this population Reeve, Moreover, discrimination is reflected in language and the ways used to refer to certain types of people Whitaker et al.
Such linguistic practices prevent people from seeing these women as who they are mothers, sisters, girlfriends, friends Ritterbusch, b. This stigma manifests itself in two ways: i enacted sexual stigma — a behavioural action of rejection such as overt discrimination and violence, and ii felt sexual stigma — the constriction of the range of conducts of behavioural options that a person must adopt to avoid being perceived as something undesirable Herek et al. They experience beatings, rape, and theft from clients; they often turn to the streets due to familial and social isolation and face denial of access to health care, child care, social services, and judicial systems within mainstream society Burnes et al.
Among a sample of FSWs, 60— These practices are attributed to criminal organizations, paramilitary groups, allies of state institutions, or citizens who do not approve of sex work and hire professional hitmen to carry out the killings Buitrago, Police reports state that these campaigns are often mere acts of intimidation that leave no casualties; however, such statements are contradicted by our experience and by the social groups affected by this type of violence as we have lost numerous peer leaders within the sex work community to social cleansing killings.
Social cleansing acts as a way of disciplining a community through violence, and those who support it further argue that it removes the rotten or damaged elements from the social tissue of society. Figure 2. The population in general has noticed a growth in violence, robberies, prostitution and drug consumption etc.
For all of these reasons, our organization has taken the decision to fight violence with violence. Moreover, institutional stigma exerted by government institutions implicitly backs and enacts stigma discourses. As a result, women may not disclose their involvement in prostitution when accessing service providers and may even avoid accessing services altogether because of the risks that disclosing their occupation entails, including being vulnerable to the loss of such services, removal of their children, termination of parental rights, and expulsion from social support systems Weiner, Evidence also suggests that some women are denied services because providers accept stereotypes that portray FSW as addicts Ritterbusch, aself-sufficient criminals, or carriers of disease Sallmann, Thus, socialized conceptualizations of sex work translate into violent health practices against women and their children, and to the re-victimization and isolation of this group of people Lazarus et al.
In a study by King et al. Also, 95 per cent reported that they do not feel they can openly discuss certain problems with doctors and 49 per cent had never discussed their involvement in sex work. Some 58 per cent admitted that they had 2 Bulgaria at bar women 4 sex downtown a health-related appointment because they worried that they would be treated badly and 50 per cent of street-based sex workers reported barriers to accessing health services due to their line of work Lazarus et al.
Although they are not the target population of stigma, these children inherit the violence that such stigma entails. Many FSWs avoid taking their children to health-care institutions for fear of discrimination, termination of parental rights, or removal of their children. HIV-related stigma is also, for this population, a barrier to accessing health services King et al. However, Lazarus et al. Moreover, qualitative research with FSWs in Dublin, Ireland revealed that drug users who engage in sex work tried to hide their drug use due to felt stigma and that this stigma was reinforced by the language used by health-care professionals Whitaker et al.
Also, internalized stigma may cause feelings of despair, depression, anxiety, and powerlessness Burnes et al. In general, members of stigmatized groups are at a greater risk of mental and physical health problems, which include hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke Krieger, There is also a 2 Bulgaria at bar women 4 sex downtown body of evidence suggesting that stigma itself can be an important contributor to ill health in individuals and to the production of health disparities in populations.
Promoting gender equality in society is of the utmost importance in terms of meeting the gender-oriented Millennium Development Goals in general and of formulating and advocating for public policy that conceptualizes empowerment and the improvement of the quality of life and work of women as progress and as a fundamental component of economic development and productivity in the labour market.
This approach takes stigma as the point of departure for combating the deepest and most persistent gender inequalities experienced in society. Furthermore, the precaution-adoption process model Bartholomew et al. When people and social institutions are unaware of the problem, as in the Colombian case, media messages about the hazards of the problem and the precautions to be taken are pertinent and useful. This approach is relevant due to the invisible and naturalized state of stigmatization and discrimination. By giving visibility to stigma, social groups are able to understand their own behaviour in a different light.
Such a strategy is especially effective when attempting to reach resistant groups, as might be the case with health professionals and Colombian society as described earlier. Getting FSWs involved at the start of the process from the de of research instruments to the analysis of data and the development of policy is crucial to creating coherent, feasible, and effective change. It is not possible to understand the complex situation in which FSWs live without actually getting involved with the community and observing reality from their point of view; academics, policy makers, institutions, and sex workers have to forces.
For example, one of the PAR leaders told us that, as part of a district programme, she was offered a job as an alternative to sex work. In another case, a sex worker said she was offered a scholarship to finish secondary school as a part of an NGO programme, but due to drug dependency issues she could not finish her courses.
Even though these programmes offer things FSWs need, the lack of articulation between them renders them inoperative; hence, an integral solution is needed. Whether the law initiative is approved or not, stigma is a hard-to-fight problem that requires immediate action. Based on research and interventions in the community, 7 we argue in favour of using participatory research methods such as photography and video with stigmatized communities; methods that can effect change on a political level through critical social inclusion praxis regarding stigma Bartholomew et al.
By giving vulnerable populations such as these women access to technology both in terms of research methods and of social exposition technology, social media, and diffusion media they are able to portray themselves as who they wish to be perceived as and thus social stigma can be confronted and contested in particular, strategic urban spaces.
Furthermore, access to technology endures in terms of the social influence it achieves. The social exposure that aims to mobilize empathy and ethical care can call into question the health barriers that FSWs and their children encounter on a larger scale.2 Bulgaria at bar women 4 sex downtown
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