Context of Mexican Sex Workers Along the US/Mexico Border

Avelardo Valdez, University of Texas - San Antonio
Alice Cepeda, City University of New York

This paper focuses on the motivations for entry into a career of prostitution among a population of Mexican sex workers. This research is part of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded investigation based on 63 life history interviews with sex workers (male and female) in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. This study combined multiple methods in order to identify and examine this "hidden population" of sex workers. These methods included social mapping, ethnographic observations, and life history interviews. The paper presents a descriptive analysis of the sex worker population and a qualitative analysis of the respondents' motivation for entry into prostitution. Findings reveal that becoming a sex worker is facilitated by the quasi-legalization of prostitution in Mexico and impoverished economic status of Mexican women along the U.S./Mexico border. Discussed is how the circumstances and motives for entry into this career among these women are distinct from U.S. sex workers. This results in different types of women entering sex work in Mexico and the U.S. This study contributes to the understanding of the social context of pathways to prostitution.

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Updated 05/20/2006