Controversy over HIV clause in prostitution reform

Posted on Dec 5 2013 - 7:14pm by Editor
(Photo: 20 Minutos)

Colombia’s Congress is currently debating new legislation seeking to regulate prostitution and protect sex workers that would include an initiative to prohibit them from paid sexual activity should they test positive for HIV, reported Radio Santa Fe on Wednesday.

Controversy arose when it became clear that a new paragraph had been added during committee sessions directly contradicting the bill’s original intent.

“When I presented the project that seeks social security for prostitutes, it made clear that it should be completely forbidden for a sex worker to provide her service if she has AIDS,” said the bill’s initiator, Senator Armando Benedetti Villaneda.”But something weird if not suspicious happened in the 7th Committee of Congress, when one of the speakers presented the complete opposite.”

It was unclear who changed the language in the bill, and toward what end, but Benedetti, who sponsored a similar reform attempt in 2012, insisted that the error would be corrected, explaining that preventing the spread of sexually transmitted disease is one of the key goals of a regulated prostitution industry.

MORE: Colombia seeks to regulate prostitution

Prostitution is currently a grey area in Colombian law, classified as “immoral but not illegal” in various legal statutes.

Because of the lack of formal definition in the sex trade, sex workers have little legal recourse in labor disputes, a situation that proponents of reform say leads to widespread abuse and exploitation.

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