Argentine bishops’ commission opposes government’s technical assistance to sex workers

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In a Sept. 20 post on X, the National Justice and Peace Commission of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference requested that the agreement made between a government agency and an association of “sex workers” be rescinded, warning that it “fails to comply with the abolitionist legal framework of the Argentine state.”

The term “abolitionist” here means the state is committed to abolishing prostitution. Argentina has passed laws against prostitution and human trafficking in 1913, 1936, 2008, and 2012.

The agreement for technical assistance was made between the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) — which operates under the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation — and the Network of Sex Workers of Latin America (RedTraSex).

The commission recalled the words of Pope Francis in the prologue to the book “Crucified Women: The shame of trafficking told from the street” by Father Aldo Buonaiuto: “Any form of prostitution is a reduction to slavery, a criminal act, a repugnant vice that confuses making love with venting one’s instincts by torturing a defenseless woman.”

The commission stressed that “all organizations and entities of the Argentine state must respect the abolitionist principle of prostitution to which our country adheres” and pointed out that the law states that “any form of prostitution is a reduction to slavery.”

This legal framework, explained the bishops’ commission, is mandatory for all agencies of the Argentine state.

This framework includes Law 26.842, the U.N. Convention for the Suppression of Human Trafficking and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, and Article 6 of the U.N. Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. 

According to Art. 75 Sec. 22 of the Argentine Constitution, international treaties signed by the state have the force of constitutional law.

Furthermore, the commission noted that according to the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation “the Argentine state has assumed the national and international commitment to take all appropriate measures to suppress all forms of trafficking in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.” 

Consequently, the Justice and Peace Commission called on CONICET to “rescind said agreement.”

The signing of the agreement took place Wednesday morning at the Workers’ Innovation Center (CITRA). Researcher Cora Arias explained that this agreement is the formalization of a process that began in 2021.

At that time, CONICET linked up with RedTraSex to provide research experience and study methodologies, and thus develop studies to respond to the worries and concerns that the association had about the working conditions of “sex workers.”

As a result of this process, Wednesday morning a regional report carried out this year on working conditions and human rights violations of sex workers in Latin America and the Caribbean was presented.

What is a technical assistance agreement?

A technical assistance agreement is a connection that, through a research group, CONICET carries out with a company or public agency. The purpose is to provide technical collaboration in some area it specializes in.

Technical assistance consists of the provision of knowledge, which is generally in the public domain, but highly specialized.

In this case, the agreement with RedTraSex is made through CITRA, an entity under CONICET and the Metropolitan University for Education and Work (UMET).

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According to CITRA’s website, this consists of a research, innovation, and development center associated with trade unions to produce scientific and technical capabilities, with the perspective and participation of workers.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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