SITUATION BEFORE THE INITIATIVE BEGAN
In our country the problem of SWW is joined by general poorness and gender issues, so we are three times marginalized, for being poor, women and sexual workers. Police and institutional mistreat, lack of education, marginality, the fact of being women, poorness are factors that inhibit that our full rights recognition as subjects of Human Rights and as women that provide a service.
When AMMAR began to develop, SW did not know our rights; the police persecution and mistreatment were constant. For instance, In Buenos Aires City, a SW could be jailed even for 21 days.
ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIORITIES
The mistreatment, abuse and police corruption was the main factor and currently a principal item in our Agenda.
Extend the gender focus into the organization as a main component for empowerment and each SW fighting against any kind of exploitation.
Recognition of SW as subjects of right and strategic actors for social development
To fight for recognition of the organization of workers, obtain the legal recognition and same rights of every worker.
FORMULATION OF OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
To promote the organization of SW in order to fight for their rights
To include the situation of SW in public agendas
To sensitize the community about SW problems allowing the integration, non discrimination and common task to end all kind of exploitation.
To allow access to health, education and culture of SW.
Abolition of police codes that punish sex work.
To make SW recognize their rights, getting higher their self-esteem and promoting positive behaviors to their health care, STD and HIV/AIDS prevention and self-defense against gender violence, etc.
Train leaders as multiplier agents for your sector, for the population in general in topics as leadership, gender, gender violence, sexual and reproductive health, organization, recourses managing.
To generate groups decentralized with representation in AMMAR National Board.
Management and political incidence with governmental institutions, multilateral agencies, nongovernmental organizations, academic and/or investigation institutions, and mass media, to install the topic, to establish cooperation agreements and to be present in decisions that involves us.
Participate in communitarian networks, women organizations.
MOBILISATION OF RESOURCES
AMMAR receives technical and human support of CTA and the unions which belong to this Organization. Also they give us the room for our offices all over the country and afford the economic costs of its support.
The human resource arises from the voluntary work of members of the organization, this is the most valuable resource since SWW believe in a project that allow them improve their live quality. Also from professionals of diverse areas that technically support the organization voluntarily.
The national secretariat has three part time employees: coordinator, technical assistant and administrative assistant funded by specific projects.
Projects managed have received finance support from LUSIDA, GTZ, World Bank, UNAID, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, PHO, MAMACASH, Woman National Council, Dutch Embassy. Now a days we are developing a projects funded by FNV, INADI and GFV the Founds are administered by CTA and Training Center of Union Formation Foundation – CEFS. Since 2007 we have legal recognition, which allow us to manage our funding directly.
From our beginning we have been working in empowerment of SWW, this goal is achieving by the direct encounter among pairs, we train ourselves, work as health promoters, advisors in hospitals, workshops coordinators, HR specialists, anti repression and violence against women.
With our work we focus n being recognized as subjects of all rights and as strategic actors for social development. Our fight is double hard; we have to change society and government minds.
Until society no more consider us a “girls of easy life” and understand our live is hard, that we do not promote sexual work: we do not choose but got no option but do this job. Our best achievements would be that no more a woman has the necessity to do this job due to lack of opportunities. And that is why we said that AMMAR was born for perhaps, dying someday.
In AMMAR we talk about “sex work” as a result of a long ideological and politic fight that, in the framework of Human Rights and regarding the respect for the free choice of woman who is involved with, replaced the word “prostitution”. By the elimination of the word prostitute allow us to set ourselves as persons, subjects with rights, beyond the work we do. That is how we understood that that the strengthening of identity of sex worker as worker identity improve the self esteem because move SWW form the stigma place.
In AMMAR we build and train leaders and multiplier agents, to work with our peers and to carry out management actions and political impact. It is our intention to give an impetus to discuss our problems in areas of government to generate policies that put us on an equal footing with any other person living in Argentina. And gradually, we made that our voice is taken into account when developing policies related to us.
In 1998, in collaboration with various HR organizations it was achieved through a policy of advocacy activities directed to Members of the Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires the abolish of repressive and discriminatory articles that criminalize the SW that remained from dictatorship government. The same happened in 2003 in the city of Parana City thanks to the continuous work of companions of AMMAR and the support of other sectors of the community. Currently, we continue working for the repeal these articles in force in other cities. In some provinces where even this was not achieved, we reach political agreements that prevent SWW are detained.
Regarding to our health care, we understand from our own experience and work with peers that it is not enough the strengthening work and self-esteem of the SWW. The health system puts barriers to adequate access to a comprehensive health: unequal treatment offers schedules inadequate to the reality of SWW and deals exclusively with our genitals.
Faced with this situation and in order to promote access to the health of SWW we work in creating reference spaces to public health services for SWW: spaces that offer comprehensive care, taking into account our particular situation as women and as sex workers, with timetables and accessible staff sensitized to respect confidentiality and does not discriminate. So far we have managed to generate about 40 "friendly health services for sex workers" in different places of the country. However, it remains a challenge to move from personal to institutional agreements.
Another striking example of this process of training, empowerment, self-organizing and political impact is the creation and co-management between AMMAR and the Ministry of Health of the Province of Buenos Aires of the Integral Health Centre "Sandra Cabrera." It has a comprehensive health care co-managed by the same sex workers, professionals with sensitive care for SW, accessible schedules and open to the entire community has helped to expand access to this population's health. From the outset we assured that the Centre does not become a "ghetto." It is located near a zone of sex work and is specific for SWW, but is open to the community: men, women and youth in the neighbourhood to come accommodated. In addition, the participation of the SWW Centre allows for repositioning the sector in society and help to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with sex work.
We made complaints to various agencies for violation of rights to SWW and visibility in the media problematic of this community. Achieved leading role, social recognition of our struggles, making ourselves visible as women and citizens, transforming personal and social realities.We are an organization leader and example for many others: we have a national structure with 15 subsidiaries in 10 provinces of the country, 2000 SWW affiliates, we are part of a Confederation of Workers and we are reference point on the issue of sex work at the national, regional and international levels.
We empowered and made prevention of HIV / AIDS and STIs in SWW through peer approach. We contribute to decrease from 3% to 2% HIV prevalence in the population of SWW between 2000 and 2007.
We are capable of working with our peers and also to influence politically to open and sustain spaces that represent major advances in women's access to education and health. We developed key actions and unique in the world:
Create an elementary school in the province of Cordoba, open to all people, managed and directed by SWW, with official recognition of the education ministry. Create the Health Centre "Sandra Cabrera" in La Plata, a state-led and managed by ourselves, which serves the general public and staff awareness in the treatment to SWW. Met repeal of police codes in the cities of Buenos Aires and Parana.
We established consistent cooperative bonds with state agencies at national, provincial and municipal health, education, HR, justice, women, with multilateral agencies and NGOs. Currently we are consulted by Ministries of National and Provincial Health, HIV Programs National and Provincial, as well as by legislators to define policies relating to our community:
Legislature or the City of Buenos Aires called us to participate in the recent reform of the Law on AIDS.
Convened by the Ministry of Health of the Nation participated in drafting the national report on UNGASS goals and the National Consultation Expanded Strategic Planning in HIV / AIDS 2008/2011.
AMMAR or integrates the Gender Secretariat of CTA; participates with voice and vote in the National and Provincial officers of CTA, is responsible for the Executive Secretariat RedTraSex.
The consolidation of improvements in life conditions of SWW is guaranteed in the construction and the fortification of the organization. The permanent growth of AMMAR at National level, its participation in the CTA, national and regional networks allows to a continuous reproduction of its work modality of construction from the bases, consolidating the fortification between pairs. AMMAR supports the formation of new organizations of SWW and already supports to existing organizations in actions of political incidence and mobilization of resources.
We are the only organization of SWW in Latin America that has legal status with its real social object. This allows giving a frame to the fight of AMMAR for the rights of the SWW and simultaneously it is a precedent to obtain the recognition of workers union. If we added the derogation of codes that criminalize the sexual work, as well as the inclusion of AMMAR in the delineation of public policies for this sector, shaped in the creation of the Centre of Integral Health “Sandra Cabrera”, we found clear precedents for advance in the rights of the SWW, experiences of co-management with public organisms, as well as the recognition on the part of the State of the value of SWW as key actors for social development.
The main resources of AMMAR are the SWW militant leaders and who contribute their work in no remunerated way. The CTA gives logistical support, technical, human and political in all the country, giving the rooms and the basic services of our offices from 1994. Its endorsement is of extreme importance in the development of headquarters in new zones.
A process of generation of micro-business has been begun to afford some aspects of the organization. The contribution of the affiliated women is minimum since the sector that composes AMMAR is very low resources. The organization is sustained fundamentally with the financing of specific Projects for the sector, prevention of VIH/SIDA and ITS, promotion of the health, promotion of rights, organizational fortification and union.
The approach strategy allows dealing with sensitive issues like health care, prevention of HIV/AIDS and STIs, the recognition of SWW rights. In addition from partner to partner the organizational capacity of SWW is developed. The peer approach is essential to combine health promotion and prevention of HIV/Aids and STI with advice and other accompaniments to the SWW living situations.
To strengthen self-esteem, the ability to defend our rights and promote self-organization of the SWW is an essential strategy for maximizing the efficiency and sustainability in regard to health care and prevention of HIV/AIDS. A woman mistreated by her partner, by pimps, pursued by police, who is a victim of institutional violence, who feels guilty for exercising sex work is much more vulnerable to negotiate condom use. Experience has shown time and again that the backing of the organization, know our rights, recognize us as subjects of rights and empowerment allows us to take another position before infringement of our rights: We positioned in a better place to guard and exercise our rights.
In our country, although progress has been made with regard to the rights of SWW, the violation of the rights of SWW remains being a pressing problem. The violence and police repression leading police regulations in force in many provinces is the greatest obstacle to achieving prevention and health care in SWW community.
We understand that health policies and prevention of HIV/AIDS cannot be split from work policies, education, security, HR, housing, culture. The repeal police codes in Buenos Aires and Parana testify to the interconnectedness of these issues, insofar as it allowed better address the issue of health, led to another vision of society and health systems on the MTS and allotted to develop policies that provide the MTS as having rights.
The biggest lesson learned is that any proposal should be based on the needs expressed by the population to which it refers. The inclusion of the population to which it directs an initiative, not as cheap labor, but as strategic players in the development and implementation of the proposal, is crucial to ensure its success. When SWW are the engine and protagonists of an initiative, is a better approach to the problem, but also allows for the ownership of the processes, achievements, strengthens the self-organization, giving greater sustainability initiative. A clear example is the Health Centre "Sandra Cabrera," where the role of SWW in the right direction, administration and promotion is crucial to its success and sustainability