Some weeks ago we brought you a story on the organization, Tikkun Olam. It is an agency set up to advocate for sex workers in making their choice of work legally acceptable in Belize. Elisa Castaneda, who heads the organization, told Love News that the organization seeks to empower women. For context, we bring you that interview dated May 12, 2016.
“We don’t want to be defined by what we do but who we are as human beings, who we are as people and really and truly a sex worker is a woman who exchanges sexual services for payment and that can be, it ranges anywhere from escorting to full-fledged intercourse. We like to say that a lot of times culturally people say “sell bodies” it’s not, we don’t sell our bodies, we sell an experience into someone’s sexuality and we are paid for that service and it’s not everybody who is cut out to do that and I’m not saying that every woman should be a sex worker. I find that sex work can be extremely empowering on a personal level and it can really teach you about negotiation, negotiating very directly what you want knowing your value, adhering to that value and providing and excellent service and being able to provide for yourself and further your career or to further your education or that of your children, your family, your members whomever is a dependent on you as a sex worker. So really we want to move away from sexualizing sex workers or forcing on the activities but really letting our humanity define us rather than our jobs.”
It has been reported that a high concentration of the sex-workers practice can be found in northern Belize; but the reality of it is that they are found countrywide. In speaking with Mayor of Orange Walk Town, Kevin Bernard, he expressed much opposition for the so-called business and the acceptance of it.
“There are two things there. I look at it from both angles. First of all we know that yes indeed our town, not only our town …. it’s a tough question and a tough one to answer but I can tell you on my own grounds I don’t think that we ought to go down that road. I don’t think that our country ought to go down that road. We are a small nation and if we do these things we will affect our society. Orange Walk is a small town and if you legalize these things you make it even worse. People do it illegally under the table, it is wrong, it is immoral, families are breaking up when it comes to these issues and so while others may want to have a right to do what they want with their bodies as it is being claimed I don’t think that we must force that on our community and our society. You do that privately if you do want to do so but you cannot change the laws to just suit a set of individuals to do what they want, I’m totally against that first of all. I don’t engage myself in those, for me I things are places of ill repute and they need to be cut down. Personally as the mayor of the town I would want to see some of those establishments out of my town. We are looking at those issues from a council level to see what we could do to reduce those issues because we have heard and seen the reports. Families are breaking up, the social effects it has on our community it’s definitely so. When it comes to people lobbying and wanting to change the laws I am totally against that I don’t think I would ever support that. As a family man myself I wouldn’t want to see my family broken up because of issues like that so that is the reason we are totally against that.”
According to Tikkun Olam’s Facebook page, the organization works for the defence of the Human Rights of Sex Workers and towards the recognition, and legalisation of Sex Work in Belize.