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versión impresa ISSN 1405-0218


RESTREPO SALDARRIAGA, Esteban. The Sentimental Constitution: Prostitution, Sex Work, and Human Trafficking in Colombia. Isonomía [online]. 2018, n.48, pp.37-67. ISSN 1405-0218.

The essay aims at contextualizing the current debate on the abolition of prostitution or the regulation of sexual work in the dynamics of a highly sentimentalized sexual humanitarianism. The article first shows that compassion —as the driving political force that moves sexual humanitarianism to “rescuing” victims of sexual exploitation— is not, by necessity, a force that silences those who receive compassion. While on certain contexts resort to compassion may indeed be disempowering, in other contexts political mobilization led by compassion may produce social emancipation. The essay thus suggests that the resort to compassion be gauged in every single case through a pragmatic analysis of the costs and benefits of the use of compassion. This framework is rehearsed in the second part of the essay through an analysis of the constitutional debate on prostitution and sex work in Colombia. Here, the article shows how this debate transpires in a field dominated by a compassionate sexual humanitarianism leading to the “sentimentalization” of dignity, autonomy, and equality. A pragmatic analysis of the doctrine of the Colombian Constitutional Court on prostitution, sex work and human trafficking allows to provisionally conclude that this sentimentalization simultaneously supports the political projects of abolishing prostitution and regulating sex work.

Palabras llave : prostitution; sexual work; human trafficking; abolitionism; regulation; compassion; humanitarianism; sexual humanitarianism; autonomy; equality; dignity.

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