When Norma Sánchez looks back on her life, on more than five decades in strip clubs and brothels, rancid Hotels and, finally, on the street, then she found today, with 66, for the first Time true love.

It is not love to a man who saw you only as an object – all about 8000 Free, as you appreciate. Also, no love for your children, you need to make all four. It is a late love for life itself, to themselves and their Mates in the old home for prostitutes in the centre of Mexico City.

The refuge for sex workers in need of domestic help for his work. Please donate:

IBAN DE20 2007 0000 0469 9500 00 – BIC DEUTDEHH – keyword “old people’s home, Mexico”; www.stiftungstern.de

“I love me,” she says. “And my sisters here. Late – but still.”

“Thank you, Sweetheart.”

in the morning at nine, the air drags a thin here at 2300 meters height, Norma Sánchez the cane from your room in the courtyard of the hostel “Casa Xochiquetzal”, named after the Aztec goddess of beauty and sexuality. It is a yellow-washed colonial building, on a chalkboard at the entrance reads: “sanctuary for sex workers the third phase of life”.

Norma’s hair is gray and short, the body bears the scars of a life at the Limit, on the upper arm, the faded Tattoo of the woman she once was: with long hair, aufgeknöpfter blouse and Bouncing Boobs. In addition to the long tables, their “sisters” – PAL contact with you once every Suitor has fought: Raquel, 82, who was 60 years of sex worker. And Canela, 77, is still active, but only for a strain free, time, Tacos bar, or a perfume.


Angie, 54, sings in your room in the “Casa Xochiquetzal”. She lives here for five years: “I never want to go back on the road. Man loses his Dignity”.

©Adriana Zehbrauskas

“don’t come out of the Exercise,” says Canela dry.

The other women giggle. You can’t get out of the Giggle. Never pull Canela sayings, youth are free.

The warm light of the winter falls in the morning in the courtyard. Soon 15 women sitting together. To embroider Mexican folk music, you images with flowers and an idyllic mountain landscape, as they have you in the flesh, never to be seen. It is a pleasant silence, which they call their late peace.

“hand me the bales of Cloth, Dearest,” says Norma tenderly to Canela.

“Gladly, Normita Baby.”

“Thank you, Sweetheart.”

It is a concert of names. Talks, of which Norma believes that all the tenderness is in them, lost for 66 years.

“As whores, we have all lived on the edge,” she says. “With 20 it is still running. But then you’ll be 30, and Free be less. With 40 you’re out of the Puff. 50 you lose your hotel room. With 60 you live to get your hands on the road and pray to get at least one Free per day, 80 Pesos, four dollars.”

Seven red light district in Mexico City

17 years Ago, her friend Carmen Muñoz, who had worked for more than 40 years as a prostitute, came up with an idea. She saw more and more old ladies here in La Merced, one of seven red-light districts in Mexico City, Mexico: cardboard boxes, huddled under cardboard, drawn by diseases such as Aids, Hepatitis, and alcoholism.

at the same time she saw the empty houses in the district, this magnificent colonial ensemble and a Unesco world heritage site. And you saw “the perfect opportunity”, as they called it: López Obrador was mayor, a Linker, son of a shopkeeper, with a heart for the Weak and the Outcast. In fact, he gave her rent-free, the former Boxmuseum, 700 square feet of living space.


Patricia Robles Orozco, 69, holds a photo of himself at the age of 18. Once you danced in the cabaret. Today, she loves it, in the courtyard of the pictures to imagine.

©Adriana Zehbrauskas

Today, Obrador of Mexico’s President.

So Mexico got, otherwise better known for Machismo and domestic violence, in 2006, the world’s first retirement home for sex workers. The women receive free room, food, medical and psychological care. A piece of Would on the last meters of the life.

“It’s like in the Bible,” says Norma. “Since all must come to Jesus. It is a miracle. We are the scum of the society. But here, princesses.”

Only 30 meters in front of the thick walls of the colonial building, the heated Goings-on of your Vorlebens, the bustling Chaos of this 20-million-metropolis. Market women prices screaming cheap goods from China, passers-by crowd grumbling by the crowds of people, in between ladies of all ages, their body, and men inspect the greedy, the “fresh meat”, as you call it.

cheap hotel or soup

anyone Who spends a few days with the old women, to feel their brokenness. The one set after lunch, to rest, you look dumb a movie in the TV room; every day, rotate the control on the remote control. From your previous Job, you want to know anything more.

Others, however, like Vicky with Hats and feather Boa ready for your bets or waiting for their lovers, such as Norma’s friend Canela, the oldest, a small woman from Oaxaca, southern Mexico. “I’ve finally found a man for life,” she says, while Norma helps her, the bright red lipstick. “With the home I was allowed to bring him, but to him at any time.”

Then they go dancing, the walking stick, an old lady in the colors of a peacock.


“This house has saved me,” says Norma Sánchez, called Norma. Because she has learned to love themselves.

©Adriana Zehbrauskas

“came As Canela to us, we thought, she’s dying to us in six months, so sick and weak she was,” says Jesica Vargas, Director of Casa Xochiquetzal. “In the meantime, she is twelve years here.”

Vargas, a young psychologist, is head of the old people’s home since 2011. More than 250 women have taken in eleven years. Currently, 20 live here permanently, aged between 53 and 87. The war inside you are called, Survivors, examples of the resilience of people, each victims of abuse and violence, loss and illness. “In the past, on the road you had to decide every day between a cheap hotel or soup. Sometimes both was not. This is not a concern.”

– Iron rules for your new life

The home is for Vargas, no less than a Revolution: “In a Catholic country. With a lot of poverty. Even in the First world there is not such a house for old sex workers. We live from donations, the support of Feministinnen and Intellectuals. Of the city, there’s nothing more.”

The rules are iron and are set in the contract: no drugs. No Alcohol. No Men Visits. No fist fights over the remote. Every woman needs to keep their rooms clean and participate in Workshops. “The conversion is great, they had to defend themselves. They were free as the Wind, with no structure,” explains Vargas. “I have a soft heart – the heart of a chicken, as we say – but some lady I need to throw out, so like Marta, the struggles of your area in here.”


Maria Canela, 77, poses for a portrait. They slept under cardboard boxes directly in front of the doors of the home, as this was opened.

©Adriana Zehbrauskas

For the first Time in her life, the women have a schedule. Their services are available on a large piece of paper on the Bulletin Board: stair cleaning, baking bread, washing. But the rewards: a movie night, baking class, fairy-tale hour. Vargas observed among the women with a great sense of justice, as she has seen him under her bourgeois friends never: If a attacks you verbally, you defend each other. If one is sick, arguing with the other about who is allowed to maintain. “You are – perhaps for the first Time in my life – a family.”

Vargas has experienced a lot in the years: great dramas and Happy Endings. She’s flipping through a photo album and told to each home resident stories. The biggest pain is not causing the hard life on the road, but that the families you break – first the parents, later, their own children. “The two daughters of Rebecca about wanted nothing more to do with her mother and stayed away from even the funeral, although Rebecca has raised her. The five sons of Consuelita shaved her head, when she learned that she is still offering Sex for money. With us, you will let your hair to death to grow. She died of Aids, but rather of a broken heart.”

hell ride

There are also other stories, the good. Guadalupe met in front of the old home, the love of her life and moved with the man to Acapulco. The son of Carmelita visited you suddenly, after decades without contact. “It was hard for him to have an aged whore as a mother, but now he sees you on a regular basis. During the earthquake of 2017, it came with the bike, to save you.”

No combines Drama and a Happy ending as Norma, the woman with the gray short hair, Vargas. Normita, as she calls them, contributes to thousands of small stories that break your heart, but also, again, kitten.

Norma tells these stories in stages, in your room, an 18 square metre room with a bed and a closet, which reminds in its simplicity of a monastery. You must first gain confidence with men you are not good. “Johnny,” she says to the Reporter, because every foreign man is for you Johnny.


Norma Espinoza, 84, dances on her birthday with a Nurse of the house

©Adriana Zehbrauskas/NYT/Redux/Laif

“Johnny, I was raped at nine, left home at the age of 14, began my life as a whore at 15, had my first child at 16, Maria Carmen, and gave it to my mother.”

It sounds like riding the entry to hell.

even as minors bribed Norma cops, to be allowed to buy. The Madam she gave as a niece, the help just the Cleaning. With 20 Norma had her second child, Fabiola, was robbed by a woman and in the USA sold. You got a third child, Ricardo, and left it to the producer, a politician. You had a fourth, Guadalupe, and left it to the Free, a businessman, whose wife couldn’t get a child.

“Today I have contact to a child, Ricardo. He thinks I’m his aunt. I don’t dare to tell him the truth. None of my children know that I am here. Maybe I have great-grandchildren already?”

The violent up and down of your life

On her forearm, pulling scar the traces of four suicide attempts. In one eye she is blind – the result of a Robbery. On their chest the scars of a knife attack to cross a Free. Your body life told.

After the last suicide attempt in 2010 Stra you made friends here, she was at the end of their forces. “I’ve seen everything in this world, Johnny, but most of all, the sale hurts my daughter,” she whispers stumps by your last Tooth. “I would like to find.”

Now the tears, the Laugh at her, often alternating with a bell, of that fierce and holds the Doctor of the home for a disturbance and Norma for life.

As in all discussions in the Casa Xochiquetzal, a mixture of Regret and gratitude is revealed also in the case of Norma, there is Prostitution. The work gave them, the Illiterate, and Outcasts, the roof over your head and food for the children. But it would have been rather different.


Canela exercises the Count in one of the Workshops, the need to visit each resident of

©Adriana Zehbrauskas/NYT/Redux/Laif

Here in the home, however, can be Norma the way she is – after a long life of lies, deception, of Playing of and concealment. In front of your Friends, you do not need to justify himself. “I am what I am: a whore in retirement.”

“Or almost”, she pushes afterwards.

The evening descends early. From the kitchen the smell of fresh cinnamon penetrates a snail, the work of a workshop. Out in the largest red-light district of the city, between the houses from the 16. Century begins now, the tough fight to the Free.

For Norma, it should be the time for Board games. For a Film. A quiet night in. But you go to the Park at the Metro Station Hidalgo, to your “office”. Here she meets selected men, which they call respectfully “Jefa”, Boss for “Supplement your Pension”. The back hurts, she reaches for the cane. “No one’s forcing me,” she says.

“We have to Prostitution, no attitude,” says head of Vargas, as Norma. “If the women want to the way to work, it is up to you.”


Norma needs the money for a last dream, a small cabin on the Land. On the strip of ground in the state of Jalisco, where your mother put you on the road. 200 dollars she has. 4000 you need. You want to have a few animals, a vegetable garden with tomatoes and cilantro to make Tacos with beef liver and a Sauce made of chilli and sunflower seeds.

she says: “I know One thing. I’m going to die with a Smile on the lips.”


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