Ten prostitutes in the Bolivian highland city of El Alto sewed their lips together Oct. 24 as part of a hunger strike to demand that the mayor reopen brothels and bars ordered closed after angry protests by residents. Some 30 more are participating in the hunger strike, fasting inside a local medical clinic. “We are fighting for the right to work and for our families’ survival,” Lily Cortez, leader of the Asociación de Trabajadoras Nocturnas de El Alto (Association of Nighttime Workers of El Alto), told local television. “Tomorrow we will bury ourselves alive if we are not immediately heard. The mayor will have his conscience to answer to if there are any grave consequences, such as the death of my comrades.” Prostitution is legal and government-regulated in Bolivia, but El Alto Mayor Fanor Nava says he is responding to a popular mandate in his move to shut the brothels. The sex workers are also demanding an investigation into recent arson attacks on bars and brothels in the city, and have threatened to march naked through the streets of La Paz, the nearby national capital. (Reuters; La Gaceta, Tucumán, Argentina, Oct. 25; AFP; La Razón, La Paz, Oct. 24)
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