MEXICO CITY – The effects of the coronavirus epidemic have forced former sex workers in Mexico to return to business years after their departure, making it more dangerous, and some having sex in cars or on sidewalks, due to lack of affordable hotels.
Claudia, who, like many sex workers interviewed, asked to be identified only by her name, stopped working on the streets a decade ago after marrying one of her former clients. But when her husband lost his job at the start of the epidemic, the couple was left with four months’ rent for their apartment.
Claudia’s only solution was to return to work on the street.
“It was income to eat, to pay our debt,” said Claudia, who now has only one month’s rent. “It’s hard to go back and see how many of my employees from the old days, from my era, go back to the same thing, to see all the problems there.”
Laura, a 62-year-old transgender woman who started working on the streets of Mexico City 40 years ago, struggles every day to stay home. If he gets a customer that day, maybe he can afford a cheap hotel room for the night. If he does not, he sleeps on the street.
Laura said many of her clients had lost their jobs and could no longer be paid. At one point he had to pledge his phone, the only contact of which was with some of his regular representatives.
“You have nothing to eat for a few days. “You can eat one day, not the next,” said Laura. As for avoiding the coronavirus, “I rely on God” – a hand cleanser.
Things are getting harder for older sex workers like Laura, as thousands of new sex workers have taken to the streets as the epidemic has forced the closure of restaurants and shops.
Elvira Madrid, who heads the Women Activists Street Brigade, said her group found 15,200 sex workers on the streets of Mexico City in August, more than double the epidemic.
“The point was that there was more. “It was amazing on every street corner,” he said.
Madrid estimates that 40% of those on the streets now are women who have left the trade but had to return due to the epidemic, 40% are new occupations and 20% are part-time or sometimes sex workers.
“Many others, the other 40%, were waitresses who had never worked in a sex shop before,” she said. “You know, when they closed restaurants, people have to eat, they have to give their children what they need. And then single mothers. Most of them worked in shops, clothing stores, bars, cosmetics. ”
“They cried because they said, ‘I do not want to do this, but I have to feed my children,'” said Madrid. “But there was a 20%, which surprised us even more. They were housewives, women with grocery bags who did it for 50 pesos or whatever they wanted to buy food. “They did not protect themselves (use condoms) because they did not consider themselves sex workers.”
Madrid said it knew of 50 sex workers in Mexico who had died from COVID-19. He’s his old companion, co-organizer Jaime Montejo, they hunted down, and he died last May. Sex workers at a Mexican train station believe Montejo caught the coronavirus while helping them, and on the day of Mexico’s death last fall, they erected an altar in the square where many of them work.
According to Madrid, sex workers have lost 95% of their income due to the epidemic.
Conditions that have always been difficult for women doing business in Mexico. Violence by clients և gangs hunting prostitutes եր places smashed by broken police worsened during the epidemic.
Partial blockchain rules have forced many hotels to close, while others have raised prices for sex workers. It received only $ 3 or $ 4 from some customers.
Madrid said that after hotels closed or prices rose, some people began renting rooms or showcases to sex workers who found that hosts had linked them to customers and demanded payment for not posting videos online.
Now, according to Madrid, women need to take customers where they can.
“Everyone finds a place to have sex – in cars, on the sidewalks,” he said. “They started looking for a safer place to work because the hotels were closed.”
Most hotels have reopened, but many have raised their prices.
Despite fewer customers, lower wages, and greater risks, thousands of women see no other option in the face of the epidemic, but remain on the streets of the capital, spending hours in the hot sun or in dark corners. And many days they still go home to hungry families with no income at all.