The trial over the 2018 murder in Paris of Vanesa Campos, a trans sex worker, has ended. Two men have been charged with ‘gang murder’ and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Six other men have also been sentenced.
Vanesa, who was originally from Peru, was fatally shot by a group of men in Paris, France, in August 2018. The case has highlighted the violence that trans sex workers face on a regular basis, especially those with a migration background. It further underlines the dangers of the Swedish-style law that came into effect in France in 2016 that criminalises the purchase of sex workers’ services.
Giovanna Rincon, the director of Acceptess-T, a trans sex worker- and migrant-led organisation in France, was heard as a key witness during the trial. During an interview for one of the main French newspapers, she made a statement arguing for the rights and protection of other sex workers like Vanesa:
“Above all, we hope that Vanesa’s mother will be able to find some kind of peace in knowing that the people who took her daughter’s life will be condemned. But beyond individual reparation, there is also a collective dimension. What we want is for the girls to see that their lives count. […] For us, as an organisation, it is fundamental that this case – which has become symbolic – proves how urgent it is to support and give our community the possibility to work safely. […] What happened to Vanesa is the result of increased repression since 2016. For us, this trial is an opportunity to recall, once again, that the law on the criminalisation of clients must change.”
Vanesa’s murder was caused by the intersection of misogyny, transphobia, whorephobia, and a legal environment that undermines the rights of sex workers, forcing them to work in dangerous conditions.
TGEU calls on policymakers to decriminalise sex work and make laws with the meaningful participation of those people they affect, in this case, trans sex workers themselves.