AMETS: A New Sex Workers’ Organisation in Mexico

Latin America Regional Correspondent

A new sex worker-led organisation is taking its first steps in Mexico. In only four months they have held several important activities, including joining RedTraSex as members.

They gathered for the first time in June, when Argentinean sex workers from AMMAR visited the OAS General Assembly Meeting in Mexico and called for sex workers’ voices to be heard. Among the people who attended the general meeting were a number of sex workers, who immediately started exchanging phone numbers to be in contact. Some days later they also met with two members of AMMAR, and decided to start holding frequent meetings in order to someday become an organisation.

Those who decided to form this new group became the first members of AMETS, Alianza Mexicana de Trabajadoras Sexuales (Mexican Alliance of Sex Workers).

This was not the first time they had thought about forming such a group. “There was a trigger, the conversation convened by AMMAR, which brought us together in the same time and space. But even behind that moment there was another trigger, the one that made us each attend the meeting individually.” Says María Midori, current president of AMETS. “I knew it would be difficult to find another opportunity like this one. I did not attend with the idea of ​​forming an organisation, but of [beginning to] know each other. I think all of us have had the need before.”

Sofía Ponzoña, bursar of the group, added: “None of us knew each other from before, but we all had the need for sisterhood and community. And now, little by little, we are entering different political spaces with our activities”.

The main objective they have now is to build community. “We feel alone. The first reason for getting together was to create community. And after getting to know each other, we realised that we all have very varied needs, because we are very diverse within the group. But in the end, whatever the dynamics are where we work, all of us face secrecy and stigma”, said Midori.

The situation around sex work in Mexico is complex, as it is in most countries. It is in theory decriminalised under governmental supervision, but the laws vary by state. “It has to be undertaken clandestinely and everything that is done clandestinely generates vulnerability”, said Anahí, who doesn’t live in Mexico City, where AMETS is based, but who belongs to the group.

In only 4 months they have had several activities

“We attended the regional workshop on organisational management in Buenos Aires, Argentina, held by RedTraSex. It was like the kick-off. We organised a party with live punk bands to raise funds so we can soon have our legal personality as a civil association; we [also] had presence at the 14th Latin American and Caribbean feminist meeting which took place in Montevideo, Uruguay.” Said Kenia, current secretary of the alliance.

They also had a presence in a large women’s protest in Chimalhuacán, State of Mexico, which is one of the most dangerous municipalities in the country, and where thousands of women have been murdered with absolute impunity. Among many other placards, for the first time there was one demanding an end to the murders of sex workers.

Their next activity will take place on December 17th, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. It will be a street action in downtown Mexico City. AMETS are also planning workshops that benefit Mexican sex workers, and for the general public that give firsthand information and dispel myths about sex work.

“I would like feminicides to end and we should be respected. I want to raise my voice, because people act as if we don’t exist.” Said Jenny, the newest member of AMETS.