San Pedro Sula, Honduras, has been called “the most dangerous city in the world.” For sex workers in the city, the risk of violence is multiplied many times over.
Despite the fact that sex work is legal in Honduras, many groups and individuals view their actions as immoral. Those who murder sex workers believe they can literally treat these human beings as garbage to be disposed of. Such violence takes place against the broader backdrop of widespread gender- and sexuality-based violence that imperils women and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) persons all through Honduras.
Prejudice against sex workers makes it especially hard to bring pressure on the government to protect those who engage in this activity. Human rights are not, however, a popularity contest. They must apply equally to everyone – and must protect a country’s most vulnerable citizens.
Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action on the recent killing of sex workers in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. In less than a month, at least nine sex workers were murdered in the city of roughly 900,000 residents.
On December 13, 2013, several men riding in a minivan shot and killed three sex workers following a brief argument:
- Ana María Sánchez Zaldíva
- Doris Malene García
- Milagro Rosario Bonill
The same gunmen also abducted Zoila Yamileth Sánchez Zaldívar, who was later found dead.
About two weeks later, a similar group shot at a group of four women working outside a bar in San Pedro Sula, killing:
- Irina Marisela García Maradiaga
- Irma Melisa Benítez Lewis
- Sandra Liseth Aldana Pereza
- Gabriela Alejandra Osorto
The latest incident took place on January 7, 2013, when Marco Noé López Castillo, a transgender sex worker, was abducted by gunmen wearing ski masks and body armor. Like many other victims in the region, her body was thrown away as garbage in a plastic bag. She had been bound, strangled, and repeatedly run over by vehicles.