Freedom Review had an article in their 09-01-1995 issue about a prostitutes' union in Tijuana. The article is by Sally Hughes and is called "Women's Work". Here's a summary: The organization is called "Organizacion Vanguardia de Mujeres Libres A.C." or "Las Magdalenas". They have 260 members and organized sit-ins and street marches to protest police corruption and anti-prostitution policies of City Hall. It started in 1990 when a new city government tried to clean the streets from prostitution. They organized and fought back. The authorities backed off. When a new government came into office, they did it again, and were successful again. They have since expanded their activities into workshops on AIDS and self-esteem, proposals to better the public health system, and plans for a cooperative day-care center. Most say they came to Tijuana initially to work in the industrial plants but couldn't support themselves on the $30/month minimum wage. Most women don't tell their families about their job, but regularly send money home. Some leave home in the morning dressed for office work only to change clothes in the changing room of their bar. The group does not encourage women to leave the profession. Prostitution is not explicitly forbidden in Mexico, but vague laws about public order lend themselves to police corruption which the union fights against. After collecting information about corrupt police officers and presenting it to the City's human rights official, two officers were suspended for a short time. That was not sufficient, so the union began to target City Hall. They got the mayor to abandon his anti-prostitution policy and the police chief to exchange the patrolling officers. The union now has an office where they hold weekly meetings, often with guest speakers who talk about the law or AIDS. The next project for the union is to get their own medical examination room, so that the required monthly health checks can be done by doctors of their own choosing. Right now, the city provides the doctors and charges for the exams. The prostitutes complain about bad service.
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