A three-story hotel in western Caracas has become home to a 50-year-old prostitute, Juana, who, along with her 30-year-old daughter, works in a brothel in the Venezuelan capital. Sputnik Mundo found out how prostitution helped both women survive the economic crisis that has gripped Venezuela for a fourth year.
Juana and her daughter Juanita found salvation in prostitution as as neither of them had any other source of income that could pay the skyrocketing prices for rent and food. With mouths to feed, these two women resorted to selling their own bodies.
“I prefer to work selling my body, rather than watch my daughter eat from trash or fall asleep without food, because that would be very sad,” said the 30-year-old Juanita.
The hotel where they reside smells of cigarettes and sewage. In just one small room without any windows, lives Juana with her two grandchildren, her son and her partner.
“There are five of us in the room with a double bed and a daily rent,” she said.
The fall in oil prices, which forms more than 96% of Venezuela’s income, led to the strangulation of the country, with a debt of $150 billion. In such a grim situation, children and families with many children became the most vulnerable segment of society.
Juana and her daughter Juanita work six days a week in a brothel in the center of Caracas. If they get a client, they get paid $1 for one hour.
According to the women, on a “good” day they make $4 or 5. However, it is barely enough for them to make ends meet, as they pay for the rent on a daily basis and also hire a taxi that takes them to the brothel and brings them back home.
Juanita said that most people consider prostitution an easy money job. However, she emphasized that although this occupation brings more money than any regular work, there is no luxury or comfort in it.
“The food that I have is really bad. If today I eat a piece of cheese, at once I will wonder what I will eat tomorrow. I would be lying if I said I would go to a butcher’s shop to buy a kilogram of meat, because it’s very expensive, “she said.
Apart from the tough economic situation the women are forced to deal with, they face heartbreak and emotional pain as well. In Juanita’s case, her mother-in-law filed a court order against her and took Juanita’s three children away after the court ruled her as an unsuitable mother due to her occupation.
She is not allowed to visit or meet her children and because of that she suffers terribly. Earlier, her husband left her and the children as he fled Venezuela to find a better life in the Dominican Republic.
Juanita’s mother Juana worked as an administrator in a beauty parlor for ten years before the economic crisis hit the country. But because everything became very expensive, her boss had to face rising rent charges, and products became very pricey, so she decided to close the parlor, leaving Juana without an income.
Juana was desperately in need of a job, so she took up work in the brothel as a waitress. But after some time she was asked to become a prostitute. A few months later her daughter was also forced to join the brothel.
Both women say that there are days when they don’t eat anything at all just so the children can have some food.
In recent months, the Finance Committee of the National Assembly under the control of the opposition, took up the functions of the Central Bank, and in its latest report said that inflation in Venezuela at the end of 2017 exceeded 2600%.
In Venezuela there are no laws that explicitly prohibit or permit prostitution. The Ministry of Health does not keep prostitution statistics, and female workers say they feel very helpless.
According to police reports, in the center of Caracas alone, there are more than 40 brothels of various categories.