Sex workers marched through the capital on Monday to demand the right to return to work, denounce police violence and demand the reopening of hotels and temporary accommodation, which have been shuttered by restrictions put in place to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in Argentina.
Dozens of protesters chanted "We want to work!" as they demonstrated outside the doors of the Justice Ministry. Many said the lockdown was preventing them from earning a living, while others claimed that sex workers were falling victim to “arbitrary arrests" by police officers.
The rally also called for action to be taken against those responsible for the killing of sex workers, transgender individuals and transvestites.
In a statement to the press, the Asociación de Mujeres Meretrices Argentinas (AMMAR) warned that that "the economic crisis and lack of state support has led many sex workers to offer sexual services on public roads," which exposes them to potential arrest, as well as putting their safety at risk.
"The sector has been drastically affected because there is no possibility of generating income," said the collective, which said sex workers were “in a situation of extreme vulnerability.”
Argentina has been under some form of lockdown for more than six months, after President Alberto Fernández issued a compulsory quarantine order on March 20.
“Sex workers who decide to offer services in the face of the economic crisis risk police operations in which they can be arbitrarily detained," said the AMMAR.
"The closure of temporary shelters also exposes us to greater vulnerability by having to work in their own homes," they explained.
ANMAR said it has created a national emergency fund to help those struggling, but that requests for help have exceeded their capacity..
"In Constitución, for example, 90 percent of sex workers live in family hotels and more than 200 owe rent since the beginning of the quarantine."
In Argentina, the law does not penalise those who perform sex work, although it does penalise the promotion or exploitation of such practices.