How Did I Get Here?

I am a Philadelphia-based artist who was born and raised on the Mexican/American border. I had long wanted to do a body of work which focused on the social problems in Mexico to raise awareness and try to make a difference. Over Three years ago, I was afforded the opportunity to capture a series of photographs centering on the lives of prostitutes in my hometown of Juarez, Mexico. This series, entitled ‘How Did I Get Here?’ was meant to depict and problematize the adversity these women must overcome in their daily lives.

 I discovered that the majority of the girls in the brothels are not from Juarez but from different parts of the country who had arrived in Juarez with the hopes of emigrating to the US. Many of them arrived with their families and were left behind. Others had been abducted. Out of all the brothels we visited, we only met one girl who was originally from Juarez. Most of the girls have stories and are not shy about sharing them because they feel they have already lost everything, and their only reason to live is drugs. As a result, they can no longer feel the pain and humiliation of their current circumstances. 

Recently, I was able to go back to Juarez and was welcomed by the same women. However, it saddened me to see how their bodies had deteriorated due to their drug abuse (primarily heroin) and how the youngest girls, who got involved in the sex trade were completely transformed after a year or two—now bitter and drug users. It also broke my heart to learned that some of them were missing and others had been killed.

I want to emphasize that I like these women, and I want others to understand their circumstances. They have no healthcare and no access to rehabilitation. If they cannot attract clients, they go without food. I am carrying out this project because I want to document an ugly reality that must be exposed. I also hope to raise funds for the Hermanas Oblatas del Santísimo Redentor  a group of nuns that is the only organization that assists prostitutes in Juarez, Mexico by providing medical treatment, rehabilitation, and vocational training. I have also collaborated with the Coalition Against Trafficking Women, an international organization dedicated to protecting human rights.

This series and experience has greatly humbled me and I hope that it will have an impact, moving viewers to want to make a difference as well.