Things That Matter

Mexico City Moves To Decriminalize Sex Work Hoping To Put An End To Dangerous Sex Trafficking

Mexico City has just taken a monumental step to decriminalize sex work in the capital. Sex work could be decriminalized after politicians voted to change a bill that says that those engaging in it can be fined or arrested if neighbors make a complaint.  

City officials hope that it will be a first step forward in clamping down on sex trafficking that traps thousands of Mexican women and children.

The new law would decriminalize sex work across the city of more than 20 million people.

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In a statement to The Independent, Temistocles Villanueva of the Morena party, said “ “It’s a first step that has to lead to the regulation of sex work, to fight human trafficking and strengthen the rights of sex workers. Exercising sexuality in our country is still a taboo topic that few of us dare to talk about,” he added.

Prostitution in Mexico is already legal under federal law – with each of the 31 states enacting its own prostitution laws and policies.

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Thirteen states across Mexico allow sex work in some form with many creating ‘tolerance zones.’ In Chiapas, the government actually runs a state-owned brothel. UNAIDS estimates that Mexico has approximately 240,000 sex workers.

The Congress voted unanimously to approve the new policy.

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Congress approved the new law by a vote of 38-0 with 8 abstentions, demonstrating wide ranging support for the law.

With this move, Mexico City wants to take aim at cartels that deal in human trafficking, often entrapping women and young girls.

Mexico is a source, transit and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking. In fact, Mexican women and children the most at risk from sex trafficking, according to the US state department.

The country is listed as a tier two nation in the US’s Trafficking in Persons Report, meaning it does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but it is making substantial efforts in order to do so.

They also want to protect sex works from extortion from local police.

One of the most common issues sex workers face in Mexico City is extortion from police officers. Even though prostitution is legal at the federal level, police will threaten and intimidate sex workers into giving them bribes.

Many took to Twitter to celebrate the decision that will help protect women and girls.

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Some pointed out the efforts to decriminalize sex work in other countries has resulted in the reduction of human trafficking.

Decriminalization groups often point to these cases in making a point for legalization, saying it helps keep sex workers safer.

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