Sign on to condemn the treatment of Alejandra Gil and her son Omar Sayun Gil under Mexico’s new anti-trafficking law

We condemn the treatment of Alejandra Gil and her son Omar Sayun Gil under Mexico’s new anti-trafficking law, which conflates sex work and trafficking, and their treatment since their arrest.

We understand that Alejandra Gil and her son Omar Sayun Gil have been charged with the serious offence of human trafficking, and that they remain in custody. Alejandra Gil is the founder of APROASE, an organization that offers sliding scale health services to street-based sex workers in Mexico City. Her son, Omar, supports her in some these efforts. Alejandra Gil was working to develop a rights-based anti-trafficking tool for use with sex workers, which is important in Mexico, where a new anti-trafficking law has been passed. In other countries where anti-trafficking laws have been passed, we have seen the adverse effects of overly broad focus on sex work lead to arrests and detentions of sex workers and people who work with them.

We the undersigned are concerned at the conflation of sex work with human trafficking, and with the lack of due process afforded the Gils.

Mexico’s anti-trafficking law is broad and includes living off the earnings of prostitution. While some sex workers who can afford to pay for their health services in a fee-for-service arrangement, this is not living off the earnings of prostitution or human trafficking. UNAIDS’ briefing note on the legal status of sex work and key human rights and public health considerations states that “Sex work cannot and should not be conflated with human trafficking or sexual exploitation which constitute human rights violations and are prohibited under international and national laws.”

UNAIDS further states, “States have a responsibility to prevent and address human trafficking and sexual exploitation. However, these efforts should not justify criminal prosecution or other coercive measures against adults who voluntarily engage in sex work, either as sex workers or clients. Experts and researchers working on trafficking have clarified that there is no evidence that prostitution in itself is a cause of human trafficking.”

Since their arrest, there has been sensationalized media coverage of this case, as if they had already been convicted. We are concerned about the lack of due process afforded the Gils in this case, and urge the Mexican judiciary to guarantee that the rights of the Gils are ensured during this process. 


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