Sex workers: Mérida curfew is dangerous and unfair

Mérida streets which a little over a year ago would have been abuzz with traffic lay empty well before 11:30. Photo: Courtesy
Mérida streets that a little over a year ago would have been abuzz with traffic are empty well before 11:30 p.m.. Photo: Courtesy

Mobility restrictions designed to curve the spread of COVID-19 are disproportionately affecting people working informally. 

The situation is particularly grim for sex workers who are forced to walk home given a lack of public transportation or taxis. 

In Mérida, traffic is closed to motor vehicles from 11:30 at night to 5 the following morning. 

People caught driving during the restrictive hours can face fines as high as 5,000 pesos, have their car impounded and lose their driver’s license. 

“We need help from the authorities, we need to be listened to. People always forget about us and our needs, but we have rights too. These restrictions make our line of work even more dangerous than it was before,” said Dorian Herrera, a local transgender sex worker. 

Earlier: Activists: Yucatán continues to lag behind on transgender rights

Several sex workers in Mérida have complained that mobility restrictions have made them more likely to be targeted by people seeking them harm.

“One time I decided to borrow a bicycle to help me get home after work, but it did me little good as a man followed me on a moped for a couple of blocks before proceeding to grab at me and steal my bag,” said sex worker Kenia Zarza.

Transgender rights activist Trillo Herrera said that although some improvements have been made, Yucatán remains an extremely transphobic region, an observation shared by Mexico’s human rights commission.

More than a year into the mobility restrictions, many people in Mérida are wondering how much longer these measures will remain in place. 

Several lawyers have called in to questioned the legality of the restrictions and argue that the measure put unjust limits on free movement, which is guaranteed by the constitution. 

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.