Sex workers in Colombia are making their voices heard.
La Esquina (“the corner”) is a newspaper produced for and by by sex workers, the majority of whom are transgender, in Bogotá’s red light district, according to a recent piece by the Guardian. The paper was founded last July by a group of activists and artists who reportedly wanted to “start a positive project in the neighborhood.”
Since then, La Esquina has seen huge amounts of success, probably due in part to the paper’s distribution. There are two ways to read La Esquina: by securing one of the print copies that are distributed at brothels and local shops, or by checking out the “mural” edition, which is laminated and pasted to the walls around the community for workers to read while they wait for clients. The mural edition is the most popular, the Guardian reports.
“People think it is really cool. I thought to myself, ‘Is anybody actually going to read this?’, but they do, and they like it,” said one staffer, Lorena Daza.
For sex workers in Santa Fe, it’s an opportunity to speak directly to their own communities, and it’s been that way since its inception. Early staff members surveyed locals to find out what they’d be interested in reading — security, health, and events — to tailor their content.
The latest edition of La Esquina features horoscopes, budget recipes, and a gossip section, in addition to a report on the more serious topic of botched plastic surgeries, a “horrifying reality” that’s all too common for the country’s transgender population, the Guardian reports.
The paper is funded in part by two local non-profits, The Sexual Diversity Attention Centre (Caids) and the MovilizArte Foundation. According to the Guardian, La Esquina has been “flying off the shelves.”
“This is a neighbourhood filled with survivors,” Aura Francesconi, the only cisgender woman on staff, told the Guardian. “It’s filled with people who have had their lives plagued by thousands of obstacles and here they have the opportunity to show themselves for who they really are.”
(Photo: Stack of bundled newspapers. By jayk7, via Getty Images)