Sex worker Angela Villón Bustamante announced her bid for Peru’s congress on Sunday. “Vote for me, and I’ll make Congress a more respectable brothel,” she promised on the Panamericana show Sexto Dia.
“I’m a prostitute…and so what?”
Villón became a sex worker at the age of 17. Now 50 and married with children, she remains an active prostitute, noting in a 2015 interview that she earns far more than her husband.
“I’m a prostitute…and so what? It means I’m a free woman,” said Villón in her announcement.
Villón has a history of advocacy. She is president of the Peruvian Sex Workers Organization, formed in 2004 in homage to Miluska, a prostitute murdered by a client in 1998.
Although Peru has taken steps legitimize the sex trade – prostitution is legal with restrictions and the Ministry of Health treats sex workers for STIs – Villón said there is still work to be done. She favors total decriminalization.
It is still illegal, for instance, for prostitutes to work on the streets.
Villón has spoken to Congress before. In 2009, she addressed a congressional forum on sex workers and the sex trade.
During her previous appearance, she advocated for official recognition of sex work. Although prostitution is not a crime, its practitioners are in a legal limbo. “(to access government programs) I have to invent something, I can’t say I’m a sex worker. I don’t have access to credit. I don’t have access to health insurance.”
Abortion and transgender rights
Corrupt officials and organized crime take advantage of sex workers’ precarious legal situation to extort them, said Villón, “We are the petty cash drawer for corrupt police…we buy their children diapers.”
The candidate also favors the legalization of abortion in the case of rape and recognition of transgender individuals.
It’s difficult to assess Villón’s chances in the 2016 election. She’s running as a member of Frente Amplio, a left-wing party with five members in Peru’s 130-member congress.
Win or lose, she has become part of a very small group of sex workers who have aspired to higher office.
Porn star Ilona Staller served as a member of parliament in Italy from 1987-1992. Charlotte Rose, a British sex worker, received only 0.16% of the vote for a parliamentary seat in the UK despite media attention.