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Colombia Court Recognises Sex Workers' Legal Status and Labour Rights

After reviewing the case of a woman who was fired from an establishment providing sexual services because she was pregnant, the court upheld the rights of sex workers to work, equality, security, and maternal leave.

The establishment where she worked must now pay her 12 weeks of maternity leave. While there was no formal written contract, there was an informal “employment contract” which was broken off suddenly. However, the court did not demand that she be able to return to work, because while the work is legal, it is contrary to the liberal principles of the law.

The ruling further stated that in cases where the sex worker works voluntarily, on a regular schedule, reports to a boss, and receives regular remuneration, there is a contract of employment.

The court also recognized that prostitution is not illegal work, as it is covered by commercial law, tax, and labor regulations.The court said it had a “duty to consider the sex worker as a subject of special protection as they hold little power on their side of the work contract, work in certain conditions, and are victims of present-day and historical discrimination.”

The ruling will most likely lead to the creation of associations of sex workers looking to demand their rights, as well as unions focused on improving labor conditions.

One of the judges on the case explained, “sex workers are still just numbers and statistics and data surveys, subjects discriminated against and subjected to the indignity of not deserving the protection of the state, victims as a rule, invisible in their economic and social rights, seen only as unacceptable and illegitimate.” The ruling of the court must “operate in parallel to the policies and actions of existing rehabilitation and prevention.”

Colombia reports