Nicaragua's Supreme Court has made sex workers official representatives of the government and the judicial system.
A pilot group of 18 sex workers have been provided with technical and legal training to try to manage the most common conflicts that arise in their line of work, which is often accompanied by abuse and neglect.
The vice president of the Nicaraguan Judicial System, Marvin Aguilar supported the new classification in the capital, Managua.
"We are the only country in the world that treats sex workers as 'judicial facilitators.' The only country in the world that does not try and arrest them, where the activity is not criminalized," noted Marvin Aguilar, vice president of the Nicaraguan Judicial system. "We do not put them in prison for the sexual work. There are countries close to Nicaragua in which sex workers are sought after like any other criminal so to be sent to prison."
Sex workers say the classification is important because it gives them credibility and respect when they go to the police with a complaint.
According to RedTraSex, the Latin American and Caribbean Female Sex Workers Network, nearly 15,000 women in Nicaragua make their living in the sex trade, of which an estimated 14 percent are the beneficiary of some professional organization. The rest operate in a legal limbo.
Along with the new classification, Nicaraguan police have also established a relationship with RedTraSex to attend to the women in sex work.
The decision in Nicaragua comes amid a push in Central America to grant greater recognition of sex workers. A group is seeking to create a sex workers' union in Guatemala, while activists are promoting laws to recognize sex workers in Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama.