Police Abuse and Sex Workers – The Two Wings of the Butterfly: Negotiating Ethical Dilemmas in Participatory Action Research (PAR) in Bogotá, Colombia

María Inés Cubides Kovacsics, Alejandro Lanz Sánchez

Research output: Working paperAcademic

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Since September of 2012, we have been conducting Participatory Action Research (PAR) in the center of Bogotá with sex workers regarding their right to the public space known as 'La Mariposa' (The Butterfly), an open‐air plaza where they often face discriminatory urban praxis and frequent abuse by police officers. While our PAR team has conducted research in 'The Butterfly' for over five years, the objectives, motivation and design of this PAR project were defined by community‐based peer leaders and driven by their concerns and testimonies about the abuse and discrimination they have experienced from police in the plaza. Sex workers in the plaza have described these experiences in terms of unjustified detention, physical and verbal abuse, discrimination and abuse due to sexual orientation, and urban displacement. In this paper, we will discuss our PAR team's action research agenda and our collective work promoting sex worker's re‐appropriation of their right to public space and the city. We will provide concrete examples of ethical dilemmas we have faced in the field and the corresponding praxis our PAR team developed to negotiate and overcome these dilemmas through our 'PARCES' (Translated Acronym: Peers in Action Reaction Against Social Exclusion) methodology. The principles of 'PARCES' and 'action‐reaction' guide our decision‐making process with research actors throughout the construction of the action research design, implementation and analysis in order to incorporate participatory relations and the consideration of research actors' safety, health, and rights within the ethical framework of the project.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBogotá
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

SeriesDocumentos de Trabajo

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