Student Leadership Initiative in Costa Rica: Research in Action 2015

Twelve students in SMU’s Student Leadership Initiative (SLI), sponsored by the Embrey Human Rights Program, participated in a service-learning trip to Costa Rica Jan. 2-12, 2015. The SLI students were led by Dr. Howard J. Recinos, Professor of Church and Society at SMU Perkins School of Theology, and Dr. Joci Caldwell Ryan, a lecturer in the women’s and gender studies program of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

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La Sala

An update from Chelsea, a human rights major and women’s and gender studies minor:

Today our group visited La Sala. The organization is located in San Jose, Costa Rica and focuses on defending and promoting the rights of sex workers. We were privileged enough to meet with four women who are sex workers in the area. The women gave us insight into their world, which embodied sex education, knowledge of economics and business and female empowerment.

The idea of sex workers is not one that is typically welcomed. However, the women at La Sala discussed the benefits of making sex work legal in Costa Rica. These included (but are not limited to) the decline of brothels, underage sex workers, less STDs and health risks, healthcare, pensions, and minimum wage for sex workers, and the decline of sex-tourism.

I really appreciated the opportunity to meet with the women at La Sala because of the insight they gave us on how sex workers can increase the development in countries such as Costa Rica.

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