MANAGUA – Seven sex workers have been murdered in Nicaragua over the past year, according to a report by a non-governmental organization that represents them and demands that society accept them as women who have the same rights as the rest of the population.
The president of the Nicaragua Sunflowers sex workers’ organization, Maria Elena Davila, told Efe Friday that since 2011 to date, seven of its members have been killed in cases for which formal complaints were filed with the authorities.
Other cases of violence against sex workers were never reported to police by the victims, Davila said without further explanation.
Gender violence has left some 524 women dead in Nicaragua since 2004, according to a report by the Network of Women Against Violence.
Davila recalled that Nicaragua has no legal ban on prostitution, but “society does not accept” sex workers, for which she demands that they be acknowledged as women with social, health and economic needs.
Without offering any figures, the leader said that the most violent years for Nicaragua’s sex workers were 2007 and 2009, and that in the latter year the organization signed an accord with the Ombud’s Office for Human Rights to have access to legal accompaniment, which achieved a certain downturn in the number of aggression cases.
“We (sex workers) are human beings and we have the same rights” as other citizens, Davila said.
Nicaragua Sunflowers is a non-governmental organization founded five years ago that recently obtained legal certification from the National Assembly, and now has 478 members registered in 15 Pacific coast municipalities in the Central American country.
Obtaining legal certification “has been an ant-like labor” but nonetheless “an achievement, because sex work has been vilified in Nicaragua,” the leader said.
With legal certification, Nicaragua Sunflowers can establish cooperative agreements with international organizations, she said.
From now on, the organization aims to grow stronger and the first step will be setting up its national headquarters to welcome all sex workers interested in joining Nicaragua Sunflowers.
According to Davila, the principal needs of organization members are homes, health and education.
She said that some women are already taking classes and others are interested in going to school to specialize in different types of employment.
“We don’t harm anyone, we’re women with needs,” she said.