Editorial. Prostitution: the balance between protection and empowerment

Gender stereotypes play a role as ideology in affecting the behavior of both men and women. Traditionally, Latin American women are imprisoned in the stereotype of being curvy, provocative and sexual objects, rather than subjects with decision-making power and rights. The vast presence of prostitution in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region has for long been interpreted as the ultimate proof of the long-existing Latin-American women stereotypes. What often remains unmentioned is that sex workers in LAC have been organizing for recognition and labor rights for a while.

Prostitution is a highly debated topic all around the world. Everyone agrees that today, without the phenomenon of prostitution, the Cuban economy would be much worse. Legalizing it, regulating it and even presenting it as a job as honest as any other, would be the solution to prevent its increase or the appearance of the crimes associated with the activity. Although the experiences in other countries with legalization and regularization indicate the existence of other problems that go beyond prostitution, this perspective sheds light on areas such as safety, health and rights of prostitutes and they have more and more defenders among Cubans, particularly among younger people.

In a country where the sale of one’s own body for sexual purposes is a valid economic alternative to a regular job, it is imperative to provide sex workers with working conditions that meet their needs as right holders. It is important to note that these professionals constitute a heterogeneous group of people who face diverse problems and experiences be they women, men or transsexuals. In this way, authentic and legal consent has become one of the few features that is common to all of them. But what are these variables?

The way forward must be something that finds the balance between protection and empowerment. This edition of Rewriting Cuba offers space to deepen our understanding of the problems connected to prostitution from the perspective of those who live close to this reality on the island.

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