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Home / Sex and Relationship / Coronavirus: Bolivian sex workers bet on see-through ‘biosecurity’ raincoats to reduce contagion risk

Coronavirus: Bolivian sex workers bet on see-through ‘biosecurity’ raincoats to reduce contagion risk

Bolivian sex workers in the capital La Paz are preparing for life in the age of the coronavirus with new equipment, including bottles of bleach, gloves and see-through raincoats, all of which they say will help them resume work safely.

sex-and-relationships Updated: Jul 14, 2020 15:07 IST
Reuters | Posted by: Alfea Jamal
Reuters | Posted by: Alfea Jamal
La Paz
A sex worker wearing protective gear against the spread of the new coronavirus sits on a bed during a demonstration of the safety precautions they will take at their jobs in El Alto, Bolivia, Monday, June 29, 2020. Without kisses, with masks and with a transparent protective suit over their clothes, a group of Bolivian sex workers is trying to convince the authorities to allow them to return to their activities that were suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although prostitution is not totally legal in Bolivia, local city governments regulate its practice within their jurisdictions.
A sex worker wearing protective gear against the spread of the new coronavirus sits on a bed during a demonstration of the safety precautions they will take at their jobs in El Alto, Bolivia, Monday, June 29, 2020. Without kisses, with masks and with a transparent protective suit over their clothes, a group of Bolivian sex workers is trying to convince the authorities to allow them to return to their activities that were suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although prostitution is not totally legal in Bolivia, local city governments regulate its practice within their jurisdictions. (AP)

Bolivian sex workers in the capital La Paz are preparing for life in the age of the coronavirus with new equipment, including bottles of bleach, gloves and see-through raincoats, all of which they say will help them resume work safely.

The thigh-skimming “biosecurity suits” are among a number of recommendations in a 30-page coronavirus security manual drawn up by the Organization of Night Workers of Bolivia (OTN).

The group is pushing authorities to lift the day-time business restrictions put in place during the lockdowns, even if a strict nighttime curfew still impedes their more habitual evening work.

Lily Cortes, a representative of Bolivia’s sex workers union, told Reuters in March that some women may have no option but to work on the streets if they could not work in cooperative-run brothels. Prostitution is legal in Bolivia, but procuring it is not. One sex worker, Antonieta, showed Reuters late last week how, in addition to donning a thong, a sequined eye-mask and a sheer, crotch-height dress for work, she could layer on top a paper face mask, plastic visor, gloves and a raincoat.

She gave a demonstration of how she sprays a bleach solution on the pole she uses to dance for clients at the brothel that she operates with several other women.

“The biosecurity suit will allow us to work and protect ourselves,” she said.

Perched on a heart-shaped leather bed in a nearby room another woman, Vanesa, a single mother to two children, said she had to work to be able to fund their studies.

She said she felt confident the proposed changes would keep everyone happy. “Our clients respect the issue of safety, that we are taking these measures for our security, but also for theirs,” she said.

Bolivia has 48,187 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 1,807 deaths, but as one of the countries where the fewest number of tests are being carried out, medical experts say the real numbers of those infected could be many times higher.

The World Health Organization has said that, based on the current evidence, the coronavirus cannot be sexually transmitted.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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