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Venezuela disaster: Fleeing migrants forced into sex work to survive

Venezuelan women forced to flee their own country are facing desperate situations, with stories emerging around the world of former professional women forced into prostitution.

The economic crisis in Venezuela has continued to deteriorate, with US aid arriving at the border last week stopped by President Maduro, who blocked off the country’s borders.

As migrants in their millions continue to stream out of Venezuela, they are often faced with difficult circumstances attempting to resettle their lives in neighbouring South American countries.

Malcia, who changed her name to protect her privacy, said while living in Venezuela she was “going crazy” trying to feed her family.

Now resettled in Colombia, she has been forced to do sex work to survive.

“Here I’m also going crazy because I’m doing things that don’t look good to survive,” she said.

Malcia fled her home nation with the hope of doing work as a cleaner or a babysitter, or “anything” but said doors were repeatedly shut on her. She now sends the money she makes back home to her two children and grandparents.

“I kneel at night to ask God — I’ve even been to church to ask God for forgiveness — because I think of my kids’ little faces, my parents.

“It’s not easy, friend, not easy,” she said.

Mariza, who also concealed her name, told CNN of the desperation she is now faced with, sleeping with men for money.

Formerly she worked as a certified nurse, but the mother-of-three was forced to flee Venezuela to Colombia two years ago.

Sadly she had to leave behind her children and grandmother to escape the collapsing economy.

“To have one guy today and another person tomorrow,” is dangerous and not easy, she told CNN. But being a mother “you do what you have to”.

media_cameraThe work for these mothers is upsetting and dangerous.

Back in Venezuela, Mariza worked hard but she said 15 days of nursing would only produce enough wages to buy a single bag of flour. The inflation in Venezuela had deteriorated to the point where money had become completely worthless.

She said people would spend two days trying to get groceries, waiting day and night outside supermarkets to be handed a ticket. Often after the ordeal you couldn’t get what you needed, and had to go without essentials like baby nappies.

“You had no choice but to buy whatever was in stock,” she said.

“It’s frustrating,” she said, saying years spent studying and trying to better herself to become a career woman and secure a future for her children and family were all in vain.

“Five years of my life studying, preparing — I feel at this moment that it’s five years I’ve lost because I can’t practice.”

Now Mariza is forced to sleep with men for money, separated from her children and family.

She sends all the money she makes back to her mother and children who still live in Venezuela. She said if her mother ever found out the desperate things she has been forced to do to survive it would “hurt her.”

“It will hurt her but she won’t judge me,” she said.

For many years Venezuelans were fierce supporters of their socialist government, and their economy was buoyed by rich reserves of oil. Former leader Hugo Chavez was a supporter of social programs and this created good favour among the population.

But as the global price of oil began to fall, the economy began to falter. Mariza said her entire family voted for Mr Chavez. She said hunger and desperation were not known to Venezuela in the past.

The effect of economic migration from Venezuela has been significant. About three million Venezuelans have fled their country, with a million rehoming in the neighbouring country of Colombia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Originally published as The mums forced into sex work

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