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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Argentine prostitutes fight back
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires

Latin American prostitute attracts a man's attention (image from Guatemala)
The stigma of being a prostitute runs deep in Latin America
Prostitutes in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, have launched a campaign to raise awareness about the difficult circumstances in which they work.

They have renamed one of the major parks in the city Prostitutes' Plaza and a book has been launched about abuse and exploitation.

The women have been marching and handing out condoms.

It is part of a national campaign to admit prostitution exists and provide better security for women involved.

On the city street maps, the park is called Mercy Plaza but the locals all call it Once Plaza, since it sits at the heart of the working-class Once neighbourhood.

Only now the women who, come nightfall, work around here have renamed it Prostitutes' Plaza.

'Taking control'

On the ground by the main statue they have daubed the words "No woman is born a prostitute".

It is the title of a book published by two women, Sonia Sanchez and Maria Galindo, which looks at Argentine society and the role prostitution plays within it.

"We're taking control of the streets," said Maria.

"It's a small but important step."

Sonia said: "We're saying enough is enough. Prostitution isn't a job. It's sexual exploitation and it's big business."

Other slogans daubed, then painted over, around the square read: "The pimps rule here" and "Here they exploit the bodies of girls, and the police do nothing".


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