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Arlene Mejorado for BuzzFeed News. In the US you'd get kicked out of the club, prosecuted for harassment, fired from your job, and probably listed as a sex offender.
Not so just a short drive south, where neither MeToo nor the decades of struggle that laid Tijuana street girls foundation in the United States have taken root, and where entire families of women toil in a sex industry aimed at clients from the US. Where else can you pick and choose from s of beautiful girls to have sex with? Sex workers are feeling the effects of the MeToo backlash from angry American men as the workers encounter US customers who are bitter that their gender no longer gives them unchallenged dominion over women back home.
The sex workers in this story asked to be identified by first name and age only to protect their identities and the identities of their children. Here in Mexico, men are free to use their money and privilege any way they choose, the women said.
A sex worker, who requested anonymity, drops by UCSD's long-term sex worker study and clinic in Tijuana.
By the mid—20th century, communities from Nuevo Laredo to Tijuana had become hubs for sex tourism, drawing tens of thousands of men across the border into specially deated neighborhoods like Zona Norte in Tijuana. With a population of about 2 million, Tijuana is the largest city along the US—Mexico border, and the port of entry just south of San Diego is the world's busiest land border crossing. The sex industry in Tijuana is a multimillion-dollar enterprise that employs thousands. The bars and strip clubs lining Coahuila are like showrooms, where the sex workers lounge idly along the bar, waiting for customers.
Many bars employ small armies of men to aggressively sell clients on the women working there, like used-car salespeople approaching their monthly quota deadline. With all the money coming into the neighborhood, sex workers should in theory be able to lift themselves up economically. Add on the cost of transportation, health care, and perhaps maintaining a drug habit, and most sex workers are barely surviving.
There are no hard s of how many women are sex workers in Tijuana. A National Institutes of Health study estimated that at least 9, women worked in the industry, and that has almost certainly grown as more women have turned to it to become self-sufficient and provide for their families. All the sex workers who spoke with BuzzFeed News said they are routinely beaten, choked, and spit on by clients.
But they rarely call the cops on clients. He claimed he was a veteran and promised that his disability checks would soon begin arriving. The checks never came, but the abuse did. Laura said he also beats up her 8-year-old brother, who has a neurological disorder that affects his speech.
UCSD researchers have identified dozens of multigenerational sex-worker families in the city, including many in which not only a mother and daughter are in the industry, but grandmothers and even great-grandmothers. In fact, Laura and Patricia cut their interview short because they had to get to work.
Some are brought to Tijuana by pimps from Tlaxcalaa small state in central Mexico notorious for sex traffickers. While sex work may be legal in Tijuana, sex workers are still treated as second-class citizens. There are dozens of websites, subreddits, and forums dedicated to the subject of paying for sex in Tijuana, and they like guides to big-game hunting than meeting women. The so-called upscale clubs like Hong Kong are in hotels, which Tijuana street girls hourly and day-rate rooms for patrons. Other bars and smaller clubs have relationships with nearby hotels, where sex workers can take their customers — in exchange for a fee to the bar.
Take me to TJ! For women working in the industry, there are few resources available if clients Tijuana street girls them.
Police almost never take rape allegations by sex workers seriously, and many citizens of Tijuana openly harass them on the street. That social isolation led a small group of sex workers to band together in an effort to protect themselves and exert some political muscle. Known as the Magdalenas, since the early s they have provided some protection for each other, particularly from police abuse. The group has regular meetings where sex workers can discuss problems ranging from abusive pimps to police extortion, they said, as well as legal services if sex workers are arrested on the street during the periodic Tijuana street girls the city conducts.
Still, the group is small: The sisters estimated that there are currently 60 active members, a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of women in the industry. Gina leaned back in her chair and draped a thin arm over the back, watching the younger women with amusement. Laura and Monica had finally agreed on a pose: They would show us how they stand for work. Slowly they transformed into Paraditas. Right shoulders leaned ever so casually against the wall. Their hips cocked upward, just enough to emphasize their assets. Chests thrust forward as their left hands came to rest on their hips.
Their eyes slowly surveyed the suddenly silent room, their faces masks of indifference and desire. Contact John Stanton at john. Got a confidential tip? Submit it here. A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.
Street view of Hong Kong, a popular nightclub in Tijuana. An employee, who requested anonymity, at a popular nightclub in central Tijuana.
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