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Photographer Spends Six Years Documenting The Lives Of Retired Sex Workers In Mexico City

A shelter set up in 2006 has now helped around 250 women.

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French photographer Bénédicte Desrus spent six years documenting Casa Xochiquetzal – a shelter for elderly sex workers in Mexico City.

Bénédicte Desrus / Via

The home provides the women with food, health services and courses helping them rediscover their self-confidence and deal with traumatic aspects of their lives.

Casa Xochiquetzal was opened by Carmen Munoz, a retired sex worker, in 2006.

According to Slate, Munoz spent 20 years trying to convince the government and NGOs to open the shelter before Mexico City’s municipal government provided the building and resources.


One of the residents Amalia, 66, has suffered from schizophrenia for 22 years.

Bénédicte Desrus / Via

To earn a bit of money, she collects plastic bottles to recycle and helps sell clothes in a stall operated by her boyfriend of 31 years.

Laeticia, originally from Chihuahua, left her husband when he brought another woman into their house.

Bénédicte Desrus / Via

She abandoned everything, including her children, and has reportedly tried twice to commit suicide.

At Casa Xochiquetzal, she practices yoga daily and also stays active by knitting, embroidering and reading the Bible.

Despite remembering her childhood fondly, Norma was abused by one of her brother's friends when she was 9 years old, as well as being assaulted by a priest where she lived.

Bénédicte Desrus / Via

She later found work as a waitress in various red-light districts. She apparently always liked watching the dancers up close, “but not so close she’d get burnt".