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In Panama, women in the sex trade are exposed to monetary and sexual extortion by corrupt police officers. But a new prosecution system has gone some way to reducing this abuse of power.
There was a captain who always came looking for me. After a while, it became this kind of game for him, to come pick me up and have sex with me. That was back in or See the rest of the series here. Often, the women were obliged to perform free sexual services to avoid arbitrary and prolonged detention. The majority of respondents claimed to have been extorted by security forces, and nearly half said that officers requested free sexual services from them.
Corrupt officers, she says, would stake out prostitutes until a client arrived. They would then intervene, threatening to detain the sex worker and blackmailing the client caught in the embarrassing — but not illegal — situation. Change is partly the result of recent concerted efforts by the sex worker community to draw public attention to police abuses. Under the new system, a person arrested must be presented before a judge within 24 hours who decides on the legality of the detention and the charges brought against the detainee.
This process, implemented in Panama City in September , created a shield against abusive police detention. Associations such as the MDDP and the MILD have carried out campaigns to remind autonomous sex workers that their profession is not a crime and that no judge can legalize their detention on these charges. Without the threat of being unjustifiably locked up for days, sex workers are better equipped to resist extortion, and police officers have steered away from arresting them simply for exercising their profession.
After years of police abuse, Amparo said that the that extortion of sex workers has dropped considerably, thanks to the recent judicial reform and increased public attention on the issue. Investigation and Analysis of Organized Crime. The most extensive database on organized crime in the Americas. InSight Crime. Thu, Nov 28, Extortion Gender and Organized Crime Panama.