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TOPIC: prostitution


How Medellín Became Colombia's "Open Air" Brothel

Medellín was once a mix of conservative values and hidden perversions, but socio-economic troubles and the pandemic have coincided to make the city, in the words of locals, "Sodom and Gonorrhea."


BOGOTÁ — In the 1940s, Medellín wasn't just Colombia's chief industrial city but also boasted the most brothels, sex workers and "red light" districts.

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Really? The Feminist Case Against Prostitution

Some feminists celebrate women who sell sex, claiming they are the pinnacle of self-determined empowerment. If that were true, millions of men would be queueing up to go in the game. Those who defend sex work are missing the point.


BERLIN — As an outspoken feminist, from time to time I find myself in opposition to the movement's popular discourse. But among the apparently unimpeachable tenets of today's mainstream feminism, there is none that I find more questionable than its vehement defense of sex work. Certain feminists have even coined a phrase to refer to feminists who are opposed to sex work: SWERF (Sex-Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist). It's meant as an insult.

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COVID-19 Means Tough Times For World's Oldest Profession

As coronavirus shut down businesses around the world, red-light districts from Amsterdam to Bangkok to Frankfurt turned off their lights. But many continued to work illegally, risking infection and potential legal consequences in order to support themselves. As one Dutch sex worker told Die Welt, "The confinement does not mean that people stopped wanting sex."

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Behind The Changing Face Of Italy's Sex Trade

Thousands of Romanian girls are tricked and coerced into working the Italian streets, which are controlled by brutal Albanian mafia clans.

MILAN — Corinna was 16 years old when she was sold by her mother. She'd lived in a small town, in a Romania that had just recently been admitted into the European Union, a time and place of both hope and misery. But Corinna's family didn't believe in hope.

The mother pocketed 300 euros and let her daughter, the eldest of three, go into the hands of a "lover boy": a companion-master, feinting infatuation, a professional illusionist. Such men manage a large part of the sexual trafficking of Romanian girls in Italy. They're now trying to do the same with young Italian girls.

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Giovanny Jaramillo Rojas

Face The Maras Or Migrate: A Young Honduran's Harrowing Tale

Like so many people from gang-plagued Central America, Brayan sought safety by leaving home, even if it mean leaving his beloved mother behind.

TIJUANA — The social worker at the Migrant House in Tijuana takes me to a table where various men are making paper flowers. On the far side, Brayan Rivera, 23, is engrossed in his task. The finesse he applies to the work contrasts sharply with the roughness of the other men. His flowers are wonderfully fine and delicate.

The social worker tells me Brayan has only been there three days, and that behind the apparent shyness is an open, talkative spirit. We greet with a handshake and I notice how soft the young Honduran's hands are. His nails are perfectly cut and his long fingers sparkle with silver-plated rings. His hair is bleached and perfectly gelled. His clothes couldn't be neater.

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Etienne Dubuis

How Human Trafficking Carries Witchcraft To Switzerland

GENEVA — It may sound like hocus-pocus, but with the growing influx of African migrants, social services in Switzerland are having to tackle a new and perplexing problem: witchcraft.

The phenomenon specifically involves African women — mostly prostitutes from Nigeria — who were "bewitched" before leaving home and suffer serious psychological consequences as a result. For Swiss social services, the challenge is twofold: to understand the issue, however irrational it may seem; and to treat it — to ease the suffering these women experience.

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Mauricio Rubio

Sex, The Secretly Preferred Currency Of Public Corruption

From China to Colombia, the use of sexual favors and vulnerability to blackmail is key to widespread corruption of public officials.


BOGOTÁ — Sexual favors are an ancient form of persuasion, and may also be the most effective form of political corruption. Here in Colombia, sex is both a popular currency and a symptom of wider corruption among people in positions of power.

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William Martínez

Mockery Or Murder: The Horrors Of Being Transgender In Colombia

Chased from their homes and communities, many transgender women in Colombia seek refuge in a four-block area in Santa Fe, in downtown Bogotá.

BOGOTA — Prejudice can kill. A group of seven transsexual friends who moved to Bogotá to start a new life could testify to that, or at least the three who survived the process, albeit just barely.

All are victims of violence and persecution for changing their gender. One of the survivors, Olimpo, was stabbed eight times and is now confined to a wheelchair. She was attacked for calling someone a "cutie" (tan lindo ese pollo!). Another was stabbed by a group of homophobes and will be limping for the rest of her life.

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Michael Behrendt

City As Brothel, How Berlin Let Prostitution Spread Near Schools

Other cities ban prostitution from residential areas with schools and playgrounds. Not Berlin. Here, it's just part of the city's "poor, but sexy" image.

BERLIN — Evelin Schütze, born and raised in Berlin, isn't easily shocked.

This petite woman has been living in Schöneberger Kurfürstenstraße for 45 years. It has always been a difficult neighborhood, with girls on the streets waiting for male clients. Schütze is used to seeing that, she acknowledges.

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Iranians Turn Away From So-Called 'Temporary Marriages'

Registration officials in Iran supect there has been an increase of late in the number of informal and "unregistered" relationships. People are experimenting more with Western-style affairs of the heart, in other words — "shacking up" rather than rushing into marriage.

And they're not even going through the bother of entering a "temporary marriage," a legal loophole that exists in Iran for lovers who don't necessarily plan to make it a long-term thing. Last year, there were just 168 such arrangements nationwide, Ahmad Tuiserkani, head of the state registration body, told the daily Arman-e Emrooz.

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Migrant Lives
Florence Aubenas

In Paris, Chinese Prostitutes Driven Into The Shadows

In the Paris neighborhood of Belleville, home to a thriving Chinatown, prostitutes with no other prospects work to support families here or in China. And now, new dangers loom.

PARIS When seeing the crowd on the Boulevard de La Villette in Paris, the women initially thought it was a police operation, which are frequent here. Two of the women hid in a Chinese supermarket, and others hurried down the streets leading to the canal. One of them approached us, discreetly. A movie was being shot that day, in the Asian parts of the Belleville neighborhood; the woman even went as far as to apply for a role. After all, the film was about a Chinese prostitute. Like her, a woman without papers. Like her, or rather, like them all.

Looking back, months later, the woman shakes her head when thinking about her crazy idea, as she imagines her face on a giant screen all over the world, perhaps even back in her hometown in the Manchuria region. Then, people would have found out that she doesn't work as a secretary in Paris.

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Claudio Andrade

In Remote Patagonia, Business Is Booming For Prostitutes

Tourism, mining and oil in this southernmost region of South America are financing a flourishing, multinational sex trade.

PUERTO NATALES — Doña Vilma sits on an old sofa, its cushions stained and pockmarked with holes from carelessly handled cigarettes. In front of her is a 70-inch television showing a Spanish-league soccer match that nobody pays attention to. Vilma's attire is understated. She doesn't wear jewelry. The lines etched in her 50-something-year-old face have never been softened with expensive creams. She doesn't look like someone who earns a million dollars a year.

Vilma owns four brothels in Puerto Natales, in far southern Chile, that together employ approximately 35 prostitutes of varying nationalities. Puerto Natales lies across the border from Río Turbio, in Argentina"s Santa Cruz province. The two Patagonian towns are intimately linked, with a shared history and culture that dates back generations. Something else they have in common is the sex trade, which pays little attention to local border controls.

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