A Coalition of Sex Work Organisations in Quito, Ecuador Resist Displacement from the City

Latin America Regional Correspondent

Quito has many organisations of sex workers, including "Por un Futuro Mejor" association with 280 members, "Esperanza Futuro" with more than 60 members, and "1° de Mayo" with more than 60 partners. In April they created a coalition to engage in dialogue with national and municipal authorities. The municipality has proposed to displace sex workers outside of the city, including the Cantera brothel in the historic district of Quito. The municipality would like to move sex workers from outdoor and visible locations into indoor and private locations. Sex workers in Quito would prefer to work on the streets and bring their clients to the hotels that are supportive of their work.

"Our right is to be on the street because it’s how this industry works in the street and not on schedules in secluded areas of Ecaudor," said one member of the coalition. “What are we going to do in an area overpopulated with sex workers?” they continued.

“We work in a trade that is not fully regulated in Ecuadorian law, nor integrated into economic life with the guarantees and rights that correspond to any work. We have no legal protection, and this is  compounded by stigma and discrimination. There is a tendency in institutional policies to limit our access to public spaces,” said a member of the coalition.

The coalition and the sex workers leaders in Quito have reached out to authorities to demand:

  1. Dialogue and formal mediation between sex work leaders and the authorities of the municipality of Quito Metropolitan District to discuss the legal validity of the displacement.  
  2. That the main priority of mediation is an agreement on the regulation of sex work in public spaces.  

The coalition of sex work organisations in Quito propose the peaceful coexistence of sex work in public space. “We agree that sex work should be regulated. However, we do not agree on being confined in specific spaces. We also don’t think this is legal, since sex work is not criminalised in Ecaudor and we have rights under the Consitution of Ecuador,” said the coalition.

"We are not a stain on society, we are mothers that are in this line of work and we ask to be respected. We have a right to work, and we get to decide what we do with our bodies and how we take make money for our homes,” the coalition continued.

Members of the coalition stated that currently, they are working independently. “No one orders us,” they said. They want to make it clear to the municipality of Quito that they have not asked for this relocation and will resist it. They want the right to work on the street in Quito.