I remember many years ago when I was probably in junior high, a local newspaper ran an article on prostitution. My mom saw me reading it and told me I didn't need to be reading that. I read it anyway. Probably for the wrong reasons.
But last week, I had a conversation with a 16-year-old young man, wise way beyond his years, about prostitution in Tijuana, Mexico ... and it has had me thinking ever since. He has a burden on his heart for the situation and, as he told me a bit about it, I wanted to know more. So, I've done some research.
Prostitution is legal in much of Mexico. There is a large "red light" district -- Zona Norte -- in Tijuana that is frequented largely by men coming across the border. There are an estimated 1200 working prostitutes in Tijuana.
They come in all ages, including many well under 18. Boys as well as the girls. Many, from what I can tell, work for themselves though some are associated with brothels and pimps.
The government requires sex workers to be registered though many are not. The ones who are registered have to go for monthly health checks.
It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of the sex workers in Tijuana are HIV positive or have another STD.
A couple of years ago, Tijuana city government tried to enact legislation to take the solicitation off of the streets, perhaps creating special hotel lobbies where clients and prostitutes could meet. (It has been tradition in Della Norte for the women to line the streets.) However, that failed when the sex workers basically stormed city hall in protest.
Many of the sex workers are involved in it because it is lucrative. They often have families to support. Many are single moms. They can earn far more per day than they could working a factory or other job for $1.50 per hour. Jobs like that are plentiful but they shun them for the sex trade. Some prostitutes are among the "better off" people in Tijuana from a financial standpoint from what I can tell.
Of course, some are held there by their pimps. Others have been sold into sex slavery by their families. Still others are held there by their own addictions. There is an obvious connection between the sex business and drug trafficking.
It's an interesting thing to think about. The problem is not "prostitution" but rather what drives folks to it. The problem is also the johns. If you didn't have clients, you wouldn't have prostitutes. Prostitutes in Tijuana ofen refer to themselves by a Spanish phrase which means "woman who sins". That reminds me, though, that it takes two to tango.
So, now you know what I have been thinking about. An intriguing societal issue if I have ever seen one. As always, no easy answers.
The young man I spoke with is hoping to find a way to reach out to those involved in this. I admire him for that. He knows that first he needs to really understand all of the issues. That is correct.
God's love can prevail.