Appendix IIInterview with Claudia Colimoro
Claudia Colimoro was a candidate for the Representative Assemby of the federal district of Mexico on the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT-Mexican section of the Fourth International) in the 1991 election campaign. This pro has fought hard for contraception and abortion rights, and demands the legalization of her profession. I taped a conversation with her and her translator at the Amsterdam AIDS conference. The tape was transcribed and translated by Enriqué, a pro friend of mine from Costa Rica
I am starting my campaign with poor slogans because I wasn't prepared or organized; I have worked very hard in several provinces of the Republic and in the General District (Mexico City) trying to speak openly about sexual education at all the levels of schooling, and especially to talk about AIDS in an understandable way; to talk about condoms -- safe sex -- as the only way of preventing AIDS.
I talk about the need for kindergartens with rotary schedules for women in general. I talk as well about boarding homes for prostitutes and the possibility of legalizing prostitution.
Prostitutes need to be able to use the medical plan and to pay taxes so we can all have our constitutional rights -- of education, health and housing. I wasn't asking for a project to benefit prostitutes only; I was asking not to be separated from the rest of society. We are part of the working class and we generate a lot of jobs. Besides we want our work to be recognized. We're like other women -- the only difference is that we have decided to work with our genitals.
I think all those intellectuals are like prostitutes, since what they are selling is there intellect. Those who write prostitute their capacity for writing; and the athletes who sell their strength are like prostitutes too.
At first, the reporters wanted to do a controversial campaign and they wanted me to flash them and let them take pictures of my breasts (like Ciccolina -- she's an Italian cabinet member). I told them that my campaign is serious, like my work. That's what we need -- more respect. That is one of the reasons I will never get undressed to get attention and publicity. I think if I want to be taken seriously I must conduct myself seriously and respectfully.
I told them I want to change the name of prostitutes -- which is so offensive -- that we should be called "sex workers" instead. After a while they started taking me more seriously and I think one of the reasons is because I didn't want to play their game. At the beginning they would ask me how many clients I did per day and what I did with them. I told them that my personal life wasn't the important subject; what is important are the needs of all the prostitutes all over the nation. And the important point is to legalize prostitution -- our profession.
I didn't just talk to prostitutes about prostitution; I talked will all types of people about a whole bunch of different topics. I got a lot of solidarity from housewives.
Finally the housewives understood that we are not trying to steal their husbands -- we wouldn't be able to handle so many husbands; and we wouldn't know what to do with all of them. Its just a job and they understood that.
Actually, we kind of help their marriages by having sex with their husbands when they can't because of being pregnant, having a baby, having too much work, being tired, and so on. They supported me very strongly.
Nowadays I'm working very hard because I am thinking of running for election again in 1994 -- for the Assembly. And I'm doing sex education and STD prevention on a nationwide level, as well as organizing prostitutes, so they can claim their rights and not feel they are doing something wrong. I'm forming political groups in each one of the provinces and I am assigning a leader to each one. I am thinking of having the first national congress of prostitutes in Mexico in 1993.
Well, about being attacked. I am respected in the quarter where I live. They respect my sons as well. My son has even said publicly that he is the son of a prostitute and he is not ashamed. He says he couldn't have had a better mother. My sons and grandson hand out condoms. My son is president of the juvenile part or our association and my grandson is president for the youngest ones. They talk about safe sex and how to prevent getting HIV. They are not ashamed that I'm a prostitute. We have to tell our children, gradually, what we do -- before someone else does.
Claudia No. Never, not even during the campaign. Actually, recently I was attacked recently by a guy I don't know; but it wasn't a big deal. Sometimes people say, "Why don't you go and make money in a decent way? You should make money doing laundry for other people." I tell them I'm not Cinderella. I have a profession -- I'm a prostitute. And I have been respected and I will keep working hard to reach the Chamber. I think it is very important for a prostitute to be in the Chamber to change a lot things for my co-workers and my community.
All of them are controlled by Public Health, which means they have to pass a medical exam to make sure they are not HIV positive and that they are healthy. They have to do this every three months. They get a card -- if they pass the test -- and the police can't give them a ticket if they check on them. After four years, this is one of the most important achievements we have had. I thank Dr. Uriba, Dr. B. Rica, and Mr. Victor Ortiz -- Marta Lama, leader of the feminist group. Now we and our families can receive free medical consultation in a hospital, for minor and major surgery and for childbirth.
We have a plan to have different schedules for the kindergartens and it has already been accepted by the government of Mexico City. Right now we just need the place -- they are giving us the furniture and the cost of construction. For the last four years, the police haven't stolen the girls' money. We will keep on fighting to legalize prostitution and we want to pay taxes as a way to get benefits like any other worker in the country.
At Monterey (one of the provinces) we already have a change in the Act. And there hasn't been one for the last 80 years! We want them to change one of the articles. We want them to change the word "pimp" to "boss." So they'll pay the taxes (as a small company), since they make money out of us.
Created: September 22, 1997|
Last modified: December 20, 1998
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