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Girls & Women

This sex worker is running to make Peru’s government work for the people

Angela Villón is the first sex worker to run for congress in Peru. She wants to “improve women’s rights, decriminalise abortion in the case of rape, back civil unions and gay marriage, and fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of underage girls.”

In other words, she’ll work to advance human rights, help the common Peruvian and end the various forms of exploitation found in the country.

For instance, there are an estimated 66,300 people, mostly indigenous, who are enslaved in Peru. Many are trapped in sex slavery, largely because sex work is marginalized. In Peru, sex work is legal in brothels, but many sex operations exist outside the scope of the law.

Reforming the public image of sex workers is another goal of Villón. Traditionally, sex workers are seen as either victims of exploitation or whores not worthy of respect.

This dichotomy is insulting and fails to respect the autonomy of women who voluntarily enter the sex profession.

As Villón told the Guardian, “I’m a super whore and I’m super happy.”

She’s 51 years old, has been in the sex trade on-and-off since she was 16 and defies all the stereotypical assumptions of who sex workers are.

Her bid might seem like a longshot campaign, but Villón has been an advocate for human rights for nearly 2 decades.

In 1999, she brought a lawsuit against a police officer who beat her and, to the surprise of her colleagues, she won. This set a precedent that violence against sex workers would not be tolerated. Since then, Villón has established herself as a formidable advocate.

And Villón thinks she has a lot more in common with the people of Peru than members of Congress, who are trusted by only 16% of the population.

“I earned a masters on the street, a doctorate of experience. No one needs to tell me what it’s like to be hungry, to be poor, to be in need.”

Ending the many forms of poverty in Peru can’t be done by one politician. But if Villón is elected, she’ll send a powerful message that sex workers are multifaceted people and break yet another glass ceiling in the world.


Note: This article includes discussion of reproductive rights. The UN considers such issues to be human rights issues, but not all partners involved in Global Citizen agree with this position, and therefore this article should not be considered to express the views of all groups involved with Global Citizen.