Portrait of Loulou, a resident of Casa Xochiquetzal, at the shelter on January 3, 2000. Photo by Bènèdicte Desrus

Tough Love

Bénédicte Desrus

Mexico City, Mexico. 2008 – 2013

Casa Xochiquetzal is a shelter for elderly sex workers in Mexico City. It gives the women refuge, food, health services, a space to learn about their human rights and courses to help them rediscover their self-confidence and deal with traumatic aspects of their lives.

Founded by Carmen Muñoz, herself a former sex worker, the shelter provides community and space to age with dignity for a group of vulnerable women who are often invisible to society at large.

It was not an easy path. Muñoz worked for 20 years to get the support necessary to open the shelter, finally opening the facility in 2006 in a building provided by Mexico City’s municipal government. The municipal government also covers the cost of food for its occupants. Other support is provided by a civil association and pubic donations.

The home, the only shelter of its kind in Latin America, has housed more than 250 former sex workers since it opened.

Benedicte Desrus has been documenting the lives of the residents since 2008.