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“Every night I go to this place we know about. Sometimes, a police van passes by and there I am, waiting. And the first thing I do is to stay near the door. The girls told me what they went through, it was torture, I don't want that to happen to me. So, what do I do? I stay by the door. When I see the police van and realize they are coming in, I run away. I am not going to allow them to lock me up until the next day to make a statement." (WSW, Argentina) During police operations, WSWs are exposed to the violence that security forces usually deploy (ill treatment, insults, physical violence) and, as stated earlier, also have their word delegitimized, and their personal belongings robbed or destroyed along with their spaces, amongst other such acts. These forms of violence are also exerted by the other actors present in these procedures such as psychologists and social workers that are included in 'rescue units'. "They said we were victims of trafficking and ‘rescued’ us. And they claimed that during the raids we cried, that the psychologist interviewed us and we cried, that we claimed to have been kidnapped. It was all lies. They attributed to me, to us, things we never said. It's very invasive; the psychologists don't talk to us. It's as if they were manipulating you. They start to attack you with questions and want to make you confused. That is what they want to do.” (WSW, Argentina) During police operations, WSWs are exposed to the violence that security forces usually deploy (ill treatment, insults, physical violence) and, as stated earlier, also have their word delegitimized, and their personal belongings robbed or destroyed along with their spaces, amongst other such acts. These forms of violence are also exerted by the other actors present in these procedures such as psychologists and social workers that are included in 'rescue units'. "They said we were victims of trafficking and ‘rescued’ us. And they claimed that during the raids we cried, that the psychologist interviewed us and we cried, that we claimed to have been kidnapped. It was all lies. They attributed to me, to us, things we never said. It's very invasive; the psychologists don't talk to us. It's as if they were manipulating you. They start to attack you with questions and want to make you confused. That is what they want to do.” (WSW, Argentina) They also highlight the role of mass communication media, and particularly TV, in deploying hidden cameras in workplaces or in filming police operations that are then aired during news or journalistic investigation shows with high ratings. This kind of media intervention leads not only to criminalization and stigmatization of sex work and WSWs but also puts their identities and livelihoods at risk. “What I fear the most is that they use another hidden camera on me. Because I was already caught on one, and it ruined my life (…) That night the men came, they pretended to be clients and I fell for it. And now I can't talk to a client and be relaxed because all the time I'm thinking they have a camera. It ruined my life, because I have this neighbour, she has known me forever and then she looked at me in the face and said, 'You are a prostitute, I saw you on TV, it was your voice, I know it was you’. And the truth is that it hurt me a lot, because she was my neighbour-friend and I had known her all my life. And it's my private life, I don't have to tell the world I am a prostitute. And then I am on TV, for everyone to hear. My father is old. He is old and sick. Imagine if he gets a heart attack because of those guys... It's like they robbed me of my privacy and exposed it for the whole country to see. Because the TV station that did it has national coverage. And they forced me, it was like an obligation. I feel used because they also said I was trafficked and I am not. They used my voice, my image, for their business. They are the real pimps, because they made a profit out of me." (WSW, Argentina) One rights violation perpetrated during these police operations and that WSWs constantly refer to is the robbery of their personal belongings and money. “They took all the money from the teller. They came to take the money. 'We are helping you', they said. Helping how? They are stealing from us!" (WSW, Argentina) “During a raid they took all my clothes, all the money I had made, everything. They took everything. They even took my hair straightener that I had bought that very same day. Some euros and dollars I had in my backpack. All the money I had made that night – we stayed in the establishment until 10 am and I don't know how they managed to get in. We had a locker room where we keep our things. I had left my bag there, to go to the bathroom, and as soon 16 For a comprehensive description of the situation in Argentina, see the AMMAR Report on “Políticas anti-trata y vulneración de derechos de las trabajadoras sexuales”, Buenos Aires, 2015.

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Sex work and working conditions: The impact of being clandestine  

Research conducted in 14 Latin American and Caribbean Countries

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