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Sex workers in Mérida score a legal victory

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Sex workers in downtown Mérida near the ADO bus station. Photo: Courtesy

Yucatán district court has ruled that sanctions against sex workers in Mérida are unconstitutional.

The decision was a legal victory for 16 sex workers in Mérida who filed a legal complaint against Mérida’s municipal government and police.

The women argued that sex work restrictions imposed by City Hall were in violation of Articles 1 and 5 of Mexico’s constitution, and the court agreed. 

The two articles deal with non-discrimination and every individual’s right to work without fear of harassment. 

The judge also noted that Article 15 Section 6 of Mérida’s police code ought to be rescinded, as it expressly lays out sanctions against sex workers. 

“When drafting rules to regulate any line of work, authorities must approach all policymaking from the perspective of human rights and the right to work,” said the Yucatán-based human rights organization Indignación

Earlier: Sex workers defended by activists after police make arrests downtown

“Sex workers in Yucatán exist in a sort of legal limbo. They are particularly vulnerable to be the victims of crimes, particularly those of a sexual nature,” said José Enrique Goof Ailloud, president of Yucatán’s human rights commission. 

Prostitution is legal in Mexico but soliciting on the street is not, although it is informally permitted in some neighborhoods.

Sex workers in Mérida’s Centro have long been seen on Calle 58 and 69, as well as in the area surrounding the ADO bus station and the San Benito market.

Transgender sex workers are concentrated on major city avenues such as Itzaes and Canek.

Mérida’s City Hall and municipal police say that they will study the courts ruling and make the necessary modifications in order to comply. No time frame was offered.

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