Casa Xochiquetzal, shelter for elderly sex workers in Mexico City

María Isabel, a resident of Casa Xochiquetzal, in her bedroom at the shelter in Mexico City on July 8, 2013. María Isabel, who grew up in Michoacán, Mexico, ran away from home at the age of 9 after a year in which her father “used her.” When she got to the Mexico City bus station, she met a woman selling tamales who offered her a home and education. María Isabel nearly finished her studies to become a teacher, but when her caretaker died, she became a sex worker at 17. She now reads, writes poetry, embroiders, and makes earrings and bracelets. Casa Xochiquetzal is a shelter for elderly sex workers in Mexico City. It gives the women refuge, food, health services and a space to learn about their human rights, as well as courses to help them rediscover their self-confidence and deal with traumatic aspects of their lives. Casa Xochiquetzal provides a space to age with dignity for a group of vulnerable women who are often invisible to society at large. It is the only such shelter existing in Latin America.